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American Detained in Lebanon for Entering Country from Israel

American Detained in Lebanon for Entering Country from Israel

Thursday, 17 January, 2019 - 18:30
A blue barrel marks the edge of the Blue Line on the border of Lebanon and Israel. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
An American citizen was detained by Lebanese authorities on Thursday on suspicion that he crossed into the country from Israel, a military official said.

"Following extensive search operations, an Intelligence Directorate (security service) patrol found American citizen Colin Emery hiding in Tyre and arrested him," a statement from the military said.

It added that Emery, who had entered Lebanon on Tuesday, would be questioned under the supervision of a judge.

A military official told AFP that Lebanese authorities were in contact with the United Nations peacekeeping mission UNIFIL over the incident.

Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and each bans its citizens from visiting the other country. There are no border crossings at the tightly-controlled frontier.

Lebanon and Israel are separated by the so-called "Blue Line", a demarcation line drawn by the UN to verify Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

The US Embassy said in a statement: "We've seen media reports of the arrest of a US citizen. We take our obligation to assist US citizens abroad seriously and stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services."

It added that due to privacy considerations, "we have no further comment."

Suspicion about someone crossing the Blue Line began to surface on Tuesday.

The Israeli military said: "Israeli army troops identified a break in the fence and signs that point to the suspicion of a person crossing the border from Israel into Lebanon. The incident is under investigation."

Incursions across the heavily guarded frontier are rare. In 2014, an Arab Israeli said to be suffering from psychiatric issues crossed into Lebanon before being repatriated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Israeli military occasionally arrests shepherds around the disputed Shebaa Farms area.

Apart from a few incidents, the border has remained calm since a 2006 war between Israel and Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, which killed 1,200 in Lebanon and 160 in Israel.

Israel is currently building a wall along the 130 kilometer (80 mile) frontier to block Hezbollah attempts to infiltrate.

The Israeli army said in December it had blown up a cross-border tunnel dug by Hezbollah, one of four it had uncovered -- and pledged to destroy -- in the preceding weeks.

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