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Israel-Lebanon Technical Fence - The Good Fence

The Blue Line is the internationally recognized border between Israel and Lebanon. In 2001 Israel completed construction of an electrified wire fence along the 49-mile (79 km) border with Lebanon. The Technical Fence runs approximately 50 meters south of the Blue Line. Despite numerous minor violations of the withdrawal line, the so-called Blue Line, including sea and air violations, and occasional breaches of the ceasefire, some of them very serious, the situation in the area remained relatively calm. Some serious breaches of the Blue Line have occurred in the so-called “Shab’a farms” area, in the foothills of Jabal ash-Sheikh (Mount Hermon) south-east of KafrShuba.

Civil war began in Lebanon in 1975, Israel's northern border was quiet — and Jerusalem intended to keep it that way. The Palestinian guerrillas who once launched sporadic terrorist attacks on Israel border settlements had left South Lebanon [dubbed "Fatahland" because of the predominance there of Yasir Arafat's Fatah organization] to fight against Christians and Syrians in the north. The southern half of Lebanon has been left without any government. In the state of chaos that prevailed in Lebanon during its long civil war, the 350,000 inhabitants of the southern region, most of them farmers, found themselves virtually abandoned. Taking advantage of this peculiar conjunction of circumstances, at the instigation of Defence Minister Shimon Peres, the Israeli government established a number of gates along the electronically controlled fence that separates the two countries. This policy, known as "the good fence policy," gave Lebanese citizens access to medical care and other services in Israel. Up until the end of the first Lebanon War, in 2000, the Good Fence was open, which was the only official border crossing between Israel and Lebanon.

In the early 1970s, tension along the Israel-Lebanon border increased, especially after the relocation of Palestinian armed elements from Jordan to Lebanon. Palestinian commando operations against Israel and Israeli reprisals against Palestinian bases in Lebanon intensified. On 11 March 1978, a commando attack in Israel resulted in many dead and wounded among the Israeli population. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) claimed responsibility for that raid. In response, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon on the night of 14/15 March, and in a few days occupied the entire southern part of the country except for the city of Tyre and its surrounding area.

In June 1982, after intense exchange of fire in southern Lebanon and across the Israel-Lebanon border, Israel invaded Lebanon again, reaching and surrounding Beirut. For three years, UNIFIL remained behind the Israeli lines, with its role limited to providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population to the extent possible. In 1985, Israel carried out a partial withdrawal, but it retained control of an area in southern Lebanon manned by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and by Lebanese de facto forces (DFF), the so-called "South Lebanon Army" (SLA).

By 1989 the intensified terrorist activity of the Lebanese Communist Party [LCP] in the security zone and against the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] was stopped by what the Northern Command had done many times: wait for them beyond the border fence, and strike at them in their bases at the stage of organizing of and departure for attacks.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in June 2000 and thereby fulfilled its commitments according to UN Security Council Resolution 425, as was later confirmed by the UN itself. Israel withdrew to what is called the "blue line," which was delineated by the UN in cooperation with Israel and Lebanon. Israel calls for the removal of Hizbollah forces from the border in southern Lebanon and for the deployment of Lebanese military units along the border, as required by Resolution 425. Hizbollah had developed missile capabilities which endanger areas in northern Israel and, therefore, the dismantling of those missiles is an essential condition for stability and calm.

Following the verification of the Israeli withdrawal, UNIFIL found a number of violations, where the Israeli technical fence crossed the withdrawal line and the Israel Defence Forces used patrol tracks that also crossed the line. The Security Council has been kept informed of those violations. For their part, the Israeli military authorities on 5 July 2000 informed UNIFIL of five places where Lebanese farmers were violating the line by cultivating land on the Israeli side, albeit north of the existing Israeli technical fence. The farmers had been using the land for several years, and Israel was not demanding the immediate cessation of these activities but, in view of the security implications, was seeking a system to monitor them.

In August 2010 Lebanon and Israel voiced interest in accelerating the process of marking the so-called Blue Line separating the two countries. Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), held a tripartite meeting tonight with senior Israeli and Lebanese military representatives at the UN position at the Ras Al Naqoura crossing. The tripartite meeting was held as part of efforts to ensure that the Blue Line, as identified by the UN in 2000, is fully respected in its entirety. An exchange of fire between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on 03 August 2010 reportedly led to the deaths of at least four people. The incident was triggered by Israel’s announcement of its intention to cut down a tree in the proximity of the Blue Line. UNIFIL said in a statement that the tree was located south of the line on the Israeli side.

On 15 May 2011 around 8,000 to 10,000 demonstrators, mostly Palestinian refugees, participated in the event. Organizers included Palestinian and Lebanese organizations, among them Hizbullah. While the majority of demonstrators commemorated the day peacefully at the site prepared for the occasion, away from the Blue Line, around 1,000 protesters left the main gathering and, crossing through a minefield, moved towards the Blue Line and the Israeli technical fence. Using cordons and firing in the air, the Lebanese Armed Forces was able to stop a first attempt by a smaller group to reach the technical fence but was not able to prevent the second attempt by the demonstrators. At the technical fence, demonstrators unearthed 23 anti-tank mines, threw stones and two petrol bombs across the fence and attempted to climb it and bring it down. Following a verbal warning and firing into the air, the Israel Defense Forces then directed live fire at the protesters at the fence. After the arrival of reinforcements, Lebanese Armed Forces Special Forces reserve moved the protesters away from the fence. The Lebanese Armed Forces initially informed UNIFIL that 11 persons were killed. This figure was later revised to 7, with 111 people injured. In addition, the respective parties informed UNIFIL that 70 Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers and 4 Israel Defense Forces troops were lightly wounded by stones. One UNIFIL soldier also sustained light wounds from a thrown stone.

By January 2012 Israeli military officials planned to build a new wall on the country's northern ceasefire line with Lebanon. An official in Israel's northern command stated that the 5-meter high and 1-kilometer long wall would be equipped with alarms and separate Israeli kibbutz al-Matala and Lebanese village Kafr Kala. The wall would be the first of its kind along the frontier with Lebanon. It would protect newly-built apartment blocks in the frontier town of Metulla from sniper fire. Metulla farmers had come under sniper fire previously, and frequently have stones hurled at them from the Lebanese side. The Israel Defence Forces confirmed that it was looking at ways to enhance border security but did not give details. "The IDF is working with UNIFIL and the Lebanese army to examine various options to reduce friction," it said.

The Israel Defense Forces began fortifying positions along the border with Lebanon in September 2014. It “cemented and fortified the military posts along the border with Lebanon facing the Adaisseh-Kfarkila road,” the Lebanese National News Agency reported 18 September 2014, according to a translation by Lebanese news site Naharnet. “A crane placed cement blocks and walls on the makeshift military road separating the electronic fence and the groves of the Metulla settlement.” The NNA asserted that the IDF was erecting the fortifications in order to conceal troop movements. The report came just days after a senior IDF officer told Hebrew-language media that the situation could easily deteriorate. He added that in an upcoming conflict Hezbollah would try to capture Israeli territory — a warning that raised alarm among northern residents.

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Page last modified: 19-09-2014 19:39:35 ZULU