Lebanon Arrests 'Drunk' Youths Who Drew Fire Trying to Cross Into Israel

Lebanese authorities have arrested a group of young men who allegedly attempted to cross the country's disputed southern border while under the influence of alcohol, resulting in them being fired at by Israeli forces.

News of a security event along the tense, contested border between Israel and Lebanon first emerged Tuesday as the Israel Defense Forces sent out an alert that a group of unidentified suspects had approached the security fence, with one briefly scaling the boundary and entering Israel before returning.

"A short while ago, IDF observation troops spotted a number of suspects who approached the security fence between Israel and Lebanon," the IDF said in a statement sent to Newsweek. "One of the suspects climbed the security fence and crossed a few meters into Israeli territory before returning to Lebanon shortly thereafter."

Israeli soldiers were then dispatched and fired warning shots to disperse the alleged intruders.

"IDF troops who arrived at the scene spotted the suspects in Lebanese territory after the crossing had occurred and operated to stop the suspects by firing into the air," the IDF said. "The suspects were monitored by IDF observation troops throughout the entire incident."

The Israeli military said a subsequent search "confirmed that no further infiltration into Israeli territory occurred."

A few hours later, the Lebanese Armed Forces issued its own statement, offering further details and announcing three arrests.

"A patrol from the Intelligence Directorate stopped three young men as they approached the technical fence in the Sahl al-Khiam area while they were apparently drunk, and the Israeli enemy forces fired at them," the statement said.

An investigation into the incident and the suspects was referred to a relevant judiciary in Lebanon, according to the statement.

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A picture taken from the northern Israeli kibbutz of Manara on December 20 shows a Lebanese man holding a Hezbollah flag near the border with Israel in the southern Lebanese village of Hula. The Israel-Lebanon border has hosted wars and decades of clashes between Israeli forces and the fighters of the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement, which continues to promise vengeance for a fighter slain earlier this year in Israel. JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli forces remain routinely at alert at the border with Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement maintains a strong presence at the southern boundary. Hezbollah was formed as part of a resistance against a 1980s Israeli invasion in the midst of Lebanon's civil war.

Israeli and Hezbollah forces have gone to war twice and fought numerous border skirmishes, with shots fired as recently as this summer over alleged infiltration attempts from the Lebanese side. Hezbollah is also among the Iran-linked groups targeted in regular Israeli airstrikes conducted in neighboring Syria.

Hours after the latest border incident, Syrian state-run media reported that local air defenses had responded to an Israeli attack in the Rif Damashq province on the outskirts of the capital. The raid is the latest of its kind since a late Christmas Eve strike on the western Masyaf area in the central province of Hama.

Both attacks appeared to have been launched from Lebanese airspace, which Israel routinely violates, drawing protests from Lebanese authorities, who lodge regular complaints with the United Nations Interm Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) charged patrolling the U.N.-designated border between the two countries.

Representatives of the IDF and Hezbollah both told Newsweek in late October they remained prepared for the possibility of another all-out conflict between the two sides.

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.