Lebanon arrests 5 Sudanese attempting to 'illegally cross' Israeli border

Lebanon arrests 5 Sudanese attempting to 'illegally cross' Israeli border
A group of Sudanese men were caught trying to enter Israel through its border with Lebanon, authorities said, the latest in a growing number of attempted crossings.
3 min read
30 May, 2020
The group was caught along the Lebanon-Israeli border [Getty]
The Lebanese army said on Saturday that it had arrested five Sudanese who tried to slip illegally into Israel, the latest in a growing number of attempted crossings.

Three of the five were arrested on Friday night after slipping across near the border village of Ayta al-Shaab, an army statement said. 

The other two were arrested as they prepared to cross, it added.

The Israeli army said it had apprehended three of the Sudanese and sent them back to Lebanon. 

A spokeswoman said it was believed the men planned to seek work in Israel, which is home to more than 6,000 Sudanese asylum seekers, according to January figures.

Earlier this month, Israeli forces caught five Sudanese men who tried to cross illegally and sent them back.

Lebanon remains technically at war with Israel, having never signed a peace treaty with its neighbour, which occupied a swathe of the south from 1978 to 2000.

Sudan too remains technically at war with Israel, having fought alongside Egypt in successive Middle East wars.

In February, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudan's leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, met in Uganda for what the Israeli prime minister's office described as talks aimed at normalising ties.

The controversial meeting led to an Israeli aircraft flying through Sudanese airspace for the first time, in what Netanyahu called another example of warming ties between the two formally hostile states.

Sudanese protesters gathered in the capital Khartoum to denounce what was described as "normalisation with the Zionist entity" after reports of the secret meeting surfaced.

A Sudanese government spokesman at the time quickly scrambled to tame public outrage, saying Burhan "did not give a promise of normalising or having diplomatic relations".

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However, Sudan's military head of state said Israel has a key role to play in removing the country from a US blacklist for state sponsors of terror, in comments to Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat just days after the controversial meeting.

Sudan has been part of a decades-old Arab boycott of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians and its occupation of Arab lands.

Most recently, reports of an Israeli private jet landing in Khartoum fuelled anger over moves to normalise ties between Sudan and Israel.

Rumours of the Israeli jet first emerged on Tuesday after Israeli journalist Simon Aran shared a screenshot from the Flight Radar website, showing the flight path of a Hawker 800XP H25B model jet. 

The flight is pictured departing from Tel Aviv in Israel and flying across Egypt to arrive in Khartoum. The New Arab could not verify the authenticity of the image.

Itay Blumental, a reporter for Israel's Ynet, added that the jet's registration number was N84UP - a private jet available to rent from Israel's Private FLITE Charters based out of Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport.

Khartoum has denied the rumours, but jus a day later, reports said Israel had sent a jet with medical supplies and staff to Sudan in an effort to save the life of a diplomat who later died of coronavirus.

Najwa Gadaheldam, who died due to complications related to Covid-19 just 24 hours after the jet landed, had been instrumental in pushing for normalisation between the two countries.

Earlier this month, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu said he had spoken with the leaders of Sudan and Chad to wish them a happy Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

He said he wished the relationship with the two countries would "strengthen further", adding that new diplomatic ties with "more Muslim countries" are "on the way", CGTN Africa quoted the leader as saying.

Egypt and Jordan are so far the only Arab states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

However, Gulf Arab countries have made a number of recent moves hinting at warmer ties with Israel, prompted largely by a shared enmity towards Iran.

Netanyahu visited Oman in 2018, and frequently says the boycott of his country is ending, despite the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

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