Israeli Army Reducing Troops, Reopening Roads in North as Tension With Hezbollah Subsides

IDF had fortified the northern border in preparation for retaliation after strike attributed to Israel killed a Hezbollah member in Syria

Yaniv Kubovich
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IDF soldiers in the northern Golan Heights, July 27, 2020.
IDF soldiers in the northern Golan Heights, July 27, 2020.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israeli army said Monday that it is beginning to roll back the increased security measures it set along the northern border amid tensions with Lebanon's Hezbollah last month.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said it is reopening certain roads along the border to military vehicles, and reducing the number of troops it had sent to reinforce the area.

Last week, the IDF and defense officials assessed that the developments in Lebanon, following the massive blast at the Beirut port, has reduced the likelihood that Hezbollah would escalate tensions with Israel. The Iran-backed militia is less able, and less willing, to draw both sides into violence, defense officials believe.

Tuesday’s explosion in the port of Beirut, in which more than a hundred people were killed and thousands were injured, occurred in a warehouse where a large reservoir of ammonium nitrate was stored, allegedly negligently. An investigation into the circumstances of the explosion ruled out the possibility that it resulted from a deliberate sabotage, and Israel was quick to clarify that it was not involved in the incident.

The killing of a Hezbollah member in Syria last month, in a strike near Damascus that the group attributed to Israel, led the IDF to close roads and send troop reinforcements northward, in anticipation that the group would retaliate.

Days later, IDF soldiers thwarted a Hezbollah cell that attempted to infiltrate Israel's border. Last Friday, the IDF downed a UAV that entered Israeli airspace near the Lebanese border. The army announced that the drone was tracking troops in the area before it was intercepted.

Last week, the IDF struck Syrian military targets in response to an attempt to place explosives on the border in the Golan Heights. Syria's official news agency reported that the country's air defenses were activated against Israeli aircraft over southern Syria. According to the report, there were no casualties in the strike, which were directed at targets near Quneitra.

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