Lebanese Army Reports Smoke-Bomb Exchange with Israel
The already strained relations between Lebanon and Israel took a concerning turn as the two nations’ military forces reportedly engaged in an exchange of smoke bombs at the border on Wednesday. According to an official announcement by the Lebanese army, this incident marks the second of its kind in just a week. The confrontations are said to have occurred north of what is known as the Blue Line, the currently recognized demarcation line between the two countries, as established by the United Nations.
As per the Lebanese military’s account, the conflict was instigated by Israeli troops, who allegedly fired smoke bombs at a Lebanese patrol. This patrol was in the process of accompanying workers whose task was to remove ‘infringements’ purportedly set up by the Israelis. No comments have been made on the situation by either the Israeli military or the UN peacekeeping force positioned in southern Lebanon.
The Blue Line: A Point of Contention
The Blue Line, a border delineation drawn by the United Nations, signifies the point of withdrawal for Israeli forces in 2000 when they left south Lebanon. It currently serves as the official demarcation line between the two nations. However, this border has been a point of contention and a source of increasing tensions in recent months. Rockets have been fired towards Israel during outbursts of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there have been clashes between Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah members or supporters.
Conflicting Accounts of the Incident
There are conflicting accounts of the incident from both sides. While the Lebanese army maintains that the Israeli troops initiated the conflict by firing smoke bombs at their patrol, the Israeli military alleges that the conflict was started by Lebanon. According to them, Israeli soldiers spotted a Lebanese engineering vehicle crossing the Blue Line into Israeli territory, leading to their use of riot dispersal means.
However, the Lebanese army’s statement provides a different narrative. They claim that their patrol responded to the attack by firing tear bombs, forcing the Israeli troops to withdraw to the occupied Palestinian territories.
UNIFIL’s Role in De-escalating Tensions
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the peacekeeping force in the area, reported that there had been conflict on the day of the incident. UNIFIL has been in touch with both parties to decrease tensions and prevent any misunderstanding. As per their spokesperson, Andrea Tenenti, UNIFIL is on the ground, monitoring the situation and trying to restore calm to the area. However, the force has yet to issue a public statement on the incident.
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