The hours-long search found two unarmed, African illegal migrants and not the terrorists that had been feared.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
After hours of searching, the IDF on Thursday morning arrested two infiltrators who had crossed the border during the night from Lebanon, Hebrew news media reported.
The two were illegal aliens from Africa and were unarmed, the army spokesman said. After their capture they were taken for interrogation.
The alarm was raised Wednesday night when IDF observers noted two unidentified people stealing across the Blue Line between the two countries in the area of the village of Dovev-Matat in the Upper Galilee. There is currently a heightened degree of tension in the region, just two days after two rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory, with the IDF responding with an artillery salvo.
Army forces immediately spread out to search for the border jumpers, and closed down several traffic arteries in the region. The residents of the village were ordered to stay indoors, for fear that the pair were terrorists who would try to steal into the community and perpetrate an attack. Life returned to normal after the hours-long search was successful and the alert was canceled.
This is the second time in six weeks that illegal migrants managed to enter Israel from the north. In June, two men suspected of being Turkish nationals seeking work came across the border, leading to an 18-hour search by IDF forces and a local lockdown.
In June of 2020, a Sudanese citizen also managed the feat, evading the sensors and IDF forces and entering the border village of Shlomi, where he stayed for over two hours before being caught. He, too, was unarmed.
Another illegal migrant was successfully – and easily – smuggled over the border six months earlier, although he was caught soon after. Ahmad Abaker, also originally from Sudan, told Walla News last year, “Someone named Abu Abdu helped me…. He told me where to cross, brought me over halfway, and from there I walked alone. I got to a fence and crossed it alone. Nobody stopped me. I walked half an hour. Someone saw me, brought me water and called the army. They also called the police, who arrested me.”
Abaker was on his way to his brother, who worked in Tel Aviv. After giving up his passport and undergoing a short interrogation, the police lost interest in him, said the report, and he was released, without the knowledge of either the IDF or the Population and Immigration Authority.
Between January and June 2020, 12 more illegal migrants were caught crossing from various points in Lebanon to look for work in Israel. According to the army, they all knew of Abaker’s success. In all those cases, including the incident in Shlomi, the army sent the young men back to Lebanon immediately, in a practice called “a hot return.”
So far, the apparent porousness of the northern border has not led to an actual terror attack. In May, IDF observers saw several Lebanese suspects digging in the ground and cutting the border fence. They fired at the would-be infiltrators, who fled back into Lebanon, leaving behind suspected explosive devices at the fence.