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Israel Boosts Presence Along Lebanon Border, Expects Another Attempt by Hezbollah

Israel Boosts Presence Along Lebanon Border, Expects Another Attempt by Hezbollah

Wednesday, 29 July, 2020 - 10:00
UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) patrol the border with Israel, in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, Lebanon July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The Lebanese government is preparing to file a complaint with the United Nations against Israel over the latest border escalation, linking the security clash to Tel Aviv’s attempt to amend the tasks of the international peacekeeping forces operating in the South (UNIFIL) and to change the rules of engagement with Lebanon.

A cautious calm prevailed in the southern region on Tuesday following shelling in the occupied Chebaa Farms. Tel Aviv said it thwarting a Hezbollah attack, while the movement asserted that it was unilateral shooting.

“[Hezbollah] affirms that there has been no clash or shooting on its part in the events of the day until now. Rather, it was only one party, which was the fearful, anxious, and tense enemy,” a statement by Hezbollah said.

According to the Israeli account, the shelling began when Hezbollah members penetrated the border and tried to reach an Israeli military site in the occupied Chebaa farms. An Israeli official said that his forces have deliberately abstained from killing the four cell members, in order to prevent Hezbollah from exploiting the clash in its favor.

Tuesday’s calm was breached by intense flights by Israeli military jets in the areas of the South, Metn, and Mount Lebanon. Jets flew at medium altitude according to a report by the National News Agency (NNA).

The Lebanese Army registered 29 hostile air violations, during which circular flights were carried out over the southern regions on Monday. Hezbollah and the Israeli army remain on high alert on both sides of the border despite the relative calm after the shelling.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited on Tuesday the headquarters of the northern military region and held consultations with senior military officials.

“Our operation was an important one, in which we thwarted a penetration of our lands. All that is happening now is an attempt by Iran and its proxies in Lebanon to strengthen their military presence in our region. Nasrallah serves this Iranian interest at the expense of the Lebanese state. I do not invite anyone to test the Israeli army’s [capabilities]... We are determined to defend ourselves,” he said.

Military sources said that Israel was expecting another attempt by Hezbollah to carry out a retaliatory operation against the killing of its field commander, Ali Kamel Mohsen, by an Israeli airstrike on a site near Damascus 10 days ago.

The sources expected that the operation would take place around Eid al-Adha this week.

The Lebanese authorities are seeking to address the security development diplomatically. Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti condemned the shelling in remarks following a cabinet session on Tuesday.

“We will file a complaint to the Security Council and we will stress our adherence to the extension of UNIFIL tasks without amendments,” he said.

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