Explosion along Lebanon-Israel border wounds 3 members of militant group Hezbollah

A Lebanese security official says an explosion ear Lebanon’s border with Israel lightly wounded three members of the militant Hezbollah group

Kareem Chehayeb
Wednesday 12 July 2023 19:53 BST

An explosion near Lebanon’s border with Israel slightly wounded at least three members of the militant Hezbollah group, a Lebanese security official said, raising tensions in the area.

The three Hezbollah members were taken to a hospital near the scene of the explosion in the village of Bustan in the southern Lebanese province of Tyre, the official said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Israeli army said in a statement that several suspects approached a security fence and attempted to sabotage it, drawing efforts by soldiers to force them to retreat. It posted surveillance footage showing four people in civilian clothing approaching the border fence, and running away after an explosion. The identity of the suspects is unknown, it said.

The Israeli army later told The Associated Press that soldiers had used a stun grenade.

The incident took place hours before Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech to commemorate the start of a monthlong war between Israel and the militant group in 2006 that ended with a draw.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the army had used “nonlethal means” to deter people he called activists. “Anyone who tries us will get an answer,” Gallant said. “We have a lot to do, and we will know how to do what is needed at the right time.”

U.N. peacekeeping forces along the southern Lebanese border, known as UNIFIL, said they were investigating the situation. “In the meantime, the situation is extremely severe,” UNIFIL said. “We urge everyone to cease any action that may lead to escalation of any kind.”

Soon after, the Israeli military said it fired warning shots at a distance near another border town after a group of people hurled rocks and firecrackers near the border barrier near the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila.

Nasrallah in his address briefly mentioned the incidents, saying that they are “under investigation” and that the group will later take the “necessary actions,” without going into details.

Lebanese officials said that Israel in recent weeks has built a wall around the Lebanese part of Ghajar, a border town that straddles the tiny Mediterranean country and Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights - effectively annexing it. Lebanon’s foreign minister has asked the country’s permanent mission to the United Nations to file a complaint on the matter.

Israel meanwhile in June filed a complaint with the U.N. claiming that Hezbollah had set up tents several dozen meters (yards) within Israeli territory. It’s unclear what the tents were used for and what was inside them. They were erected in Chebaa Farms and the Kfar Chouba hills, which Israeli captured from Syria during the 1967 Mideast War and annexed in 1981, though Lebanon claims the area belongs to them.

Nasrallah said that Lebanon needs to take a decisive action to take back Ghajar “without any preconditions.”

“The land of Ghajar will not be left for Israel, and certainly not Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba” Nasrallah said. “It’s a responsibility of the state, the people, and the resistance.”

Nasrallah said in his speech that Israel cordoned off Ghajar before Hezbollah set up its tents - one on Lebanese-controlled territory and the other inside Chebaa Farms. He slammed Israel for flying military jets and drones over Lebanese airspace and uprooting trees on Lebanese territory.

“The international community remained silent on all Israeli border aggressions, but moved quickly after the resistance set up a tent at the border,” he said. “The youth of the resistance have orders to act if an Israeli attack takes place on the tent.”

Israel considers Hezbollah its most serious immediate threat, and estimates that it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.


Josef Federman and Julia Frankel contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

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