Israeli soldiers fire tear gas at protesters near Lebanese border

Israeli Soldiers Fire Tear Gas At Protesters Near Lebanese Border
Lebanon Israel, © Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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By Ahmad Mantash, Associated Press

Israeli soldiers have fired tear gas to disperse scores of protesters who pelted troops with stones along the border with Lebanon, leaving some demonstrators and troops suffering breathing problems.

The tension on the edge of the Lebanese border village of Kfar Chouba began earlier this week over the Israeli military digging in an area that Lebanon claims.


On Wednesday, a Lebanese villager tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from digging a trench along the border.

When the villager’s legs were covered with sand as the bulldozer moved ahead, UN peacekeepers jumped in and convinced the driver to move back. Videos of the elderly man with his legs stuck in the sand went viral on social media.

Lebanon Israel
A Lebanese protester throws stones at Israeli troops on the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Kfar Chouba (Mohammad Zaatari/AP)


Israel ended an 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon when its troops withdrew from the area in May 2000.

Friday’s protest took place on the edge of Kfar Chouba hills, which Beirut says is Lebanese land occupied by Israel. Kfar Chouba hills and the nearby Chebaa Farms were areas captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East War and claimed by Lebanon.

Some of the protesters tried to break through a fence in the rugged area overlooked by an Israeli military post. Israeli forces fired tear gas to disperse them while Lebanese troops and UN peacekeepers later moved in and pushed the protesters back.

“Do not cross the blue line,” read a banner carried by a UN peacekeeper in Arabic, English and French, referring to the border drawn after Israel’s withdrawal in 2000.


Israeli troops and several vehicles, including a heavily armoured Merkava tank, were seen in the area.

Lebanese troops were on alert in the area and reinforcements were brought in.

In a statement, the Israeli military said protesters tried to damage a border barrier and threw stones at Israeli soldiers in the area.

Lebanon Israel
Lebanese soldiers carry weapons amid tensions on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel (Mohammad Zaatari/AP)


The military said forces responded with “riot dispersal means” which typically means tear gas or stun grenades. The military said it “would not allow any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty”.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force for known as Unifil, said peacekeepers are on the ground working to decrease tension in the area.

“We have urged the parties to utilise our coordination mechanisms effectively to prevent misunderstandings, violations, and contribute to the preservation of stability in the area,” Mr Tenenti said.


“We call upon both sides to exercise restraint and avoid actions along the blue line that may escalate tensions,” he told The Associated Press.

The protesters later held Friday prayers in the area and then tried to sneak in again, leading to more tear gas fire.

Friday’s tension came a day after the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Major General Aroldo Lazaro, chaired a meeting with senior Lebanese and Israeli officers at the UN headquarters along the border. The general appealed for restraint along the border and work on reducing tensions.

The Lebanon-Israel border has been relatively calm since Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006.

However in April, Israel launched rare air strikes on southern Lebanon after militants fired nearly three dozen rockets from Lebanon at Israel, wounding two people and causing some property damage.

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