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UN: IDF May Have Planted Spy Gear in Lebanon

UN probe indicates devices planted in 2006 war; IDF: Hezbollah trying to cover up truce violations.

A United Nations investigation into explosions in south Lebanon indicated on Sunday that Israel may have planted spy devices on Lebanese land in what a senior UN official said would be a violation of a cease-fire agreement.

The UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon said its preliminary probe into two explosions in the south showed they had been caused by the detonation of underground sensor devices.

The units were apparently buried by Israel Defense Forces troops during the 2006 war with the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, it said.

"These do look like some sort of espionage device," Michael Williams, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, told Reuters.

If confirmed, the devices would represent violations of Security Council resolution 1701 which halted the 34-day war.

A first explosion was reported on Saturday evening and a second on Sunday morning. No injuries were reported. The devices had been placed some 2 km inside Lebanese territory between the villages of Houla and Meiss al-Jabal.

"Preliminary indications are that these explosions were caused by explosive charges contained in unattended underground sensors which were placed in this area by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) apparently during the 2006 war," UNIFIL said in a statement.

UNIFIL was investigating what had caused the devices to blow up. A Lebanese security official said they appeared to have been detonated by remote control from Israel after their discovery by Lebanese security forces.

IDF: Hezbollah trying to cover up truce violations

Israel did not respond specifically to the Lebanese assertion. But an Israel Defense Forces said Sunday's incident proved Hezbollah's military presence in south Lebanon, especially in rural Shi'ite areas along the border with Israel.

The IDF accused Hezbollah of attempting to divert attention from its ongoing military activity by inventing reports of alleged Israeli espionage devices found in south Lebanon.

"The Hezbollah terrorist organization is once again trying to divert international attention away from its continuing breach of UN Resolution 1701," the IDF spokesman said in response to the report.

Lebanese news outlets reported earlier Sunday that espionage devices placed by the IDF were located and destroyed in an explosion in south Lebanon on Saturday.

The devices were reportedly discovered near a town close to the Israel-Lebanon border, and destroyed in a midnight blast, apparently by the Lebanon-based militant Hezbollah organization.

There were also reports, however, that the Lebanese army blew up the device, as well as claims that the IDF was behind the blast.

The Hezbollah-affilited Al-Manar reported that a drone destroyed the device. The paper said that when Hezbollah operatives arrived near the site, they found another device.

Earlier this year, Lebanese authorities said they had arrested dozens of people on suspicion of spying for Israel. Lebanese officials displayed what they said was sophisticated communications equipment and other gadgets found in the homes or offices of some of the suspects.

Meanwhile, Lebanese media have reported that Israel Air Force jets recently flew over the disputed Shaba Farms area on the Lebanese border. The Lebanese army was said to have responded with anti-aircraft fire.