Northern tensions: Lebanese MP, supporters storm Israeli border, IDF fires warning shots

Lebanese MP who led group that crossed illegally into Israeli territory condemns troops’ “hostile” firing of warning shots, smoke grenades.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

A group of Lebanese nationals, including a sitting member of parliament, illegally crossed the border into Israel territory on Saturday, triggering a stand-off with the IDF that culminated in troops firing warning shots.

MP Qassem Hashem, a member of the Lebanese branch of the Ba’ath Party, led a group of some 18 people into Israeli territory, on what he said was a tour of the Mount Dov border region.

According to the IDF, soldiers fired warning shots and smoke grenades, and used other “riot dispersal” means after the Lebanese nationals walked some 80 meters into Israeli territory and initially refused orders to turn back.

After several tense minutes, the group eventually retreated back into Lebanese territory.

“It is our right to reach any spot in the Kfarchouba Hills and the Shebaa Farms and what we’re suffering is a normal thing in light of the Israeli enemy’s hostile nature,” Hashem told Lebanese outlet Nahar News after the incident.

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In a separate incident on Friday, several Lebanese rioters approached the border fence and hurled stones at IDF troops. That incident ended after Israel fired warning shots at the perpetrators.

The clashes come on the heels of rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon along the contentious northern border.

Several weeks ago, the Hezbollah terror group established an encampment on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, sparking Israeli condemnation and Lebanese defiance.

Although UNIFIL – the UN peacekeeping force responsible for maintaining the status quo along the Blue Line – acknowledged that the Hezbollah encampment is a violation of Israeli sovereignty, the entity has refused to ensure that the site be cleared.

In April 2023, during the Passover holiday, Lebanon-based terror groups fired more than 30 rockets towards northern Israel communities.

The IDF responded by targeting sites in southern Lebanon, resulting in no casualties and criticism from some Israeli security experts who charge that Israel needed to retaliate more forcefully. One of the sites bombed by the Israeli air force was a banana plantation, a move which was widely mocked on Lebanese social media.

In March 2023, a Hezbollah-affiliated terrorist crossed the border and planted a car bomb along a highway in northern Israel, which seriously wounded a motorist.

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The terrorist was shot and killed by security forces near the border fence as he attempted to return to Lebanon.