April 29, 2018 / 7:15 AM / 3 months ago

Israel briefly holds Lebanese woman who crossed border: army

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s army said on Sunday that it had briefly held a Lebanese woman who crossed the border and then repatriated her, a detention Beirut denounced as an abduction.

The Lebanese army said that the woman, Nohad Dali, was taken on Saturday evening from Shebaa, a small disputed area that Israel regards as part of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967, but which Beirut says is Lebanese territory.

“An Israeli enemy patrol carried out the abduction of Nohad Dali,” a Lebanese army statement said.

The Israeli military said two shepherds had crossed the U.N.-demarcated border with Lebanon and that one of them was taken into custody by its troops.

“She was returned today,” a military spokesman said.

There was no immediate Lebanese confirmation of Dali’s repatriation.

A U.N. peacekeeping force is based on the Lebanon-Israel border. The last outright conflict there was a short war in 2006 between Israel and Lebanon’s heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.

Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah have heightened over the group’s role in the Syrian civil war, where it has gained more experience and an increased arsenal fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad as part of an Iran-backed alliance.

Lebanon raised Dali’s case with the U.N. peacekeepers, the Lebanese army statement said.

Reporting By Angus McDowall, additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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