Israeli soldiers fired at a man who crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel in the Mount Dov area, in the Golan Heights, an Israeli military spokesperson said on Sunday.
The man, whose motive for crossing the restive border is as of yet unknown, was wounded and taken by helicopter to Rambam Hospital in the Israeli coastal city of Haifa. He is in serious condition.
Initial findings from the investigation said that a unit from the IDF’s Golani Brigade identified a person crossing the border from Lebanon to Israel during routine operational activity.
The platoon commander fired several shots in the air to make him stop, at which point the suspect began to flee, according to the Israeli army. At that point, the man was about 100 meters into Israeli territory, the investigation found, a significant distance from Lebanon.
As the soldiers started catching up, the commander shot and wounded him after noticing he was searching his clothes for something.
The Israeli army said it was looking into the possibility that the man was a militant who was attempting to test security forces response to activity near the fence, and stressed that the issue is still under investigation.
In recent weeks, Israel has raised alert levels in the area due to an increase in drug and arms smuggling and several cases of infiltration. There is a suspicion that Hezbollah might be trying to assess the military’s preparedness and locate weak spots along the the border.
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According to a report on Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar, the man was a Syrian shepherd working on a Lebanese farm. The report said he had been shot in the Kfarchouba hills, which is right on the other side of the border from Mount Dov.
The disputed area, known in English as Shebaa Farms, is considered by Lebanon to be a part of its territory, which Israel failed to withdraw from after its 2000 pullout from Southern Lebanon. The UN believes the fate of the strip of land, which is 11 kilometers wide (7 miles) should be decided within a wider agreement regarding the Golan Heights, which was seized by Israel from Syria in 1967.
Earlier this month, five men were arrested by Israeli forces after crossing the border with Lebanon. They were later revealed to be Sudanese citizens.
The five were apparently job-seekers in Lebanon, and were later released in coordination with the United Nations, which monitors the peace process on the border.
In April, the IDF said it had identified three separate breaches in the border fence with Lebanon, but that there were no infiltrations. It described the breaches as "of the most serious nature." The army fired warning flares after alarms were set off on the fence, it said, and soldiers searched the area to rule out any border crossings.