Israel army says ‘aerial infiltration’ on Lebanon border was a false alarm

Sirens had blared in large areas near the border and people were instructed to stay in shelters until further notice.

Israeli Merkava tanks are positioned in the upper Galilee in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon
Israeli Merkava tanks positioned in the upper Galilee in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon [Jalaa Marey/AFP]

The Israeli army says an “error” was behind reports of a suspected “aerial infiltration” from Lebanon, ruling out any major incident near the border.

“There are no launches at this point from Lebanon. There are no alerts,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement on Wednesday.

“This has been an error that we are looking into … We will check whether it’s a technical malfunction or a human error.”

Earlier on Wednesday, northern Israel was put on full alert after the army reported a suspected “infiltration from Lebanon into Israeli airspace”.

Sirens blared in large areas near the border with Lebanon and the Israeli army instructed people in the north to stay in shelters until further notice.

The incident came amid high tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border as Lebanon-based armed groups exchanged limited fire with Israeli forces, raising fears of a possible escalation between the two countries.

So far, Israel and Hezbollah, the most formidable of several groups that operate in southern Lebanon, have avoided any confrontation that could open up a second front in the current fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

In recent days, there have been several small skirmishes between Hezbollah and the Israeli military following the unprecedented Hamas attacks on Saturday.

An Israeli artillery attack killed three Hezbollah members earlier this week, and Hezbollah on Wednesday claimed it killed and injured Israeli soldiers in an attack with an anti-tank missile.

The Israeli military confirmed that the attack took place, but has not offered details regarding casualties.

The White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the United States was watching events on the Israel-Lebanon border with “great concern”.

“It seems that on a daily basis there are incidents going on, and there is a message out of these incidents,” Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem said as he reported from southern Lebanon.

“These incidents aren’t only meant just to relieve Gaza from pressure, but also to say that there is a new status quo, there are new rules of engagement that could be imposed on the Lebanese side of the border in case this war in Gaza continues, in case there is a land incursion, [and] in case there is an Israeli attempt to annihilate Hamas in Gaza.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies