METULLA, Israel (Reuters) - Israel began building a wall on Monday along a 1-km (0.6 mile) -stretch of its border with Lebanon, saying the barrier was necessary to boost security for an Israeli frontier town across from a Lebanese village.
An Israeli security fence already runs along the entire border but the military said defenses had to be bolstered with a 5-7 meter-(16-23 feet) high cement wall between the Israeli town of Metulla and the Lebanese village of Kila.
“(The wall is) intended to prevent firing from the Lebanese side into the Israeli side. In the past year and a half there have been a number of incidents,” Colonel Amit Fisher, a senior commander on the border, told Israel Radio.
A ceasefire has largely been maintained along the frontier since Israel fought a war against Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas in 2006. U.N. peacekeepers are stationed in the border area in southern Lebanon.
The Israeli military said the border project had been coordinated with the U.N. force and Lebanese Army.
Israel is also building a security fence in its south, along the border with Egypt’s Sinai desert, citing concerns over militant activity and smuggling.
An Israeli barrier also twists through the occupied West Bank. Israel says the project, begun during a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israeli cities, has bolstered its security. Palestinians call it a land grab and the World Court has deemed the barrier illegal.
Reporting by Avi Ohayon in Metulla, Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Erika Solomon in Beirut, Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Angus MacSwan