Lebanon arrests US man for crossing illegally from Israel

Middle East
Photo posted by Hezbollah war media cell purportedly showing an American man identified as Colin Emery in Lebanon (17 January 2019)Image copyright @C_Military1
Image caption The militant group Hezbollah posted what it said was a photo of the man at a shop in Tyre

The Lebanese army says it has arrested a US citizen suspected of entering Lebanon illegally through a breach in the border fence with Israel.

The official National News Agency cited the army’s directorate of intelligence as saying its officers were questioning the man, whom it named as Colin Emery.

He was found “hiding in one of the alleys in the city of Tyre”, it added.

The militant group Hezbollah posted what it said was a photo of him at a clothes shop where he was arrested.

Another photo apparently showed a ripped pair of trousers the man was wearing.

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.”

On Wednesday, the Israeli and Lebanese armies both said they were searching for a man who was believed to have crossed from Israel into Lebanon by climbing through a hole in the border fence the previous day.

Pro-Hezbollah Dahye News reports that a man wearing military uniform and carrying a bag was spotted by a farmer near the village of Ayta al-Shab, about 22km (14 miles) south-west of Tyre.

“I saw someone walking in my field and I became suspicious,” the farmer said.

“I called once or twice. He was startled and wanted to flee,” he added. “I asked him to show me his ID. He put his hands on his mouth to signal that he was hungry. He put his bag down. I told him, ‘Show me your ID and I will feed you.’ He ran away.”

The famer reported the encounter to an army patrol but they could not find the man.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Israeli military confirmed it had found a breach in the border fence

Lebanon 24 cited sources as saying that a US passport had been found in the bag that was thrown away.

The Israeli army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a peacekeeping force that monitors the Israel-Lebanon frontier, said they were looking into the reports of the man’s arrest, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.

Tensions have been high in the region in recent weeks, with the Israeli military launching an operation to destroy six “attack tunnels” under the border that it says were dug by Hezbollah. Hezbollah has not commented on the tunnels.

Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in 2006 in which more than 1,125 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 159 Israelis, including 43 civilians, were killed.

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