Israel tells Hezbollah it does not want escalation but will not tolerate border crossing

Israel tells Hezbollah it does not want escalation but will not tolerate border crossing
Israel reportedly informed Hezbollah earlier this week that it was not looking to escalate following a border incident, but would not allow the group to violate its border fence.
3 min read
14 July, 2023
Tensions have heightened on the Israel-Lebanon border in recent weeks [Getty]

Israel earlier this week informed Lebanon’s Hezbollah group that it did not want an escalation but "will not allow the border fence to be violated or crossed", following weeks of tensions.

The message, according to Israel's Kan broadcaster, came after an incident at the border left several Hezbollah members wounded in an explosion on Wednesday.

"After a tense day on the northern borders, Israel sent a message to Hezbollah this evening [Wednesday] stating: We do not want an escalation, but we will not allow damage to the fence or its crossing," Kan quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying.

The outlet said Israel decided to use non-lethal weapons to distant Hezbollah members who allegedly tried damaging the border fence so as not to exacerbate the situation.

This was echoed by Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant Wednesday evening, who said "we deterred Hezbollah operatives on the border with Lebanon through non-lethal means".

Kan did not clarify the mediator through which Israel conveyed this message to Hezbollah but said that US envoy Amos Hochstein was working to mediate efforts between Lebanon and Israel to demarcate the land border between the enemy states.

Hochstein played a pivotal role in reaching a landmark agreement last year between Lebanon and Israel over the maritime border demarcation, which opens up lucrative offshore gas fields.

He reportedly visited Israel earlier this week to discuss the border issue with Lebanon and the latest tensions with Hezbollah, which have erected tents on occupied Lebanese land in response to Israel building a fence around the border town of Ghajar.

Lebanon and Israel’s border is known as the Blue Line, an armistice line drawn up by the UN in 2000 upon Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah dismissed talks on delineating the Lebanese-Israeli border during a speech Wednesday evening, just hours after the incident that left some of his party members wounded.

The leader of the powerful Iran-backed militant group said Lebanon’s border "was clear" and has been established prior to Israel’s creation in 1948.

He warned Israel of removing the tents in the Shebaa Farms - claimed by Lebanon and Syria - by force, and renewed calls for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories.

Efforts by Washington and the UN’s peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to remove the tents through contacts with Lebanese officials have failed.

Hezbollah and Israel have fought several wars and on 12 July marked the anniversary of the month-long 2006 war between the two sides.

Since then, Israel has carried out near-daily reconnaissance flights over Lebanon and often crosses the Blue Line, violating UN Resolution 1701 which ended the conflict 17 years ago. Despite some skirmishes, the border region has been relatively stable.

However, observers are worried that developments in Ghajar and the Shebaa Farms could spiral into a new outbreak of violence.