BEIRUT (AP) – The United Nations peacekeeping force on the border between Lebanon and Israel said Monday that its commander is meeting with officials from both countries over tensions over two tents set up by the militant group Hezbollah last month.
Israel filed a complaint with the United Nations in June, saying Hezbollah had pitched several dozen meters (yards) of tents inside Israeli territory.
The area where the tents were set up on Cheba Farms and Kfar Chuba Hills was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Middle East War. It is part of the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel annexed in 1981.
Israeli media reported on Sunday that Hezbollah had left one of the two tents, but there was no confirmation from the Iranian-backed Lebanese group.
Maj. Gen. Arledo Lazaro, head of the United Nations peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL, “continues to be in direct contact with officials on both sides of the Blue Line to resolve the situation in the tents,” UNIFIL told The Associated Press. The demarcated border since Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 is known as the Blue Line.
“We are looking into reports that a tent has been moved north of the Blue Line,” UNIFIL added. UNIFIL added that any unauthorized presence or movement “near the Blue Line is a concern, and has the potential to escalate tensions and conflicts.”
Mohammad Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary group, said on Saturday that the tents are located in Lebanon. He added, referring to Israel, “You cannot raise two tents because there are opposition and strong people in this country.”
In the year Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in Lebanon in 2006. Last week, Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone flying over a village in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has previously claimed to have shot down Israeli drones, and the Israeli military has claimed to have shot down Hezbollah drones.
Israel considers Hezbollah the most serious imminent threat, estimating that it has 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.