An Israeli civilian was brought back to Israel through the seldom-used Rosh Hanikra Crossing Thursday evening after invading Lebanon a few weeks ago, Israeli forces said.
The man, an Arab-Israeli youth in his twenties from a Bedouin village in the Negev, entered Lebanon earlier this month but refused to indicate when and where he crossed the border.
It was not immediately clear why he went to Lebanon, although the IDF said he appeared to have done so “willingly and knowingly”. The man, whose name was not disclosed, has a history of mental health problems and has a criminal record.
According to IDF spokesman Ran Kochav, the man was detained in Lebanon for several weeks while the Israeli defense and diplomatic officials worked to bring him back. He did not want to comment on who was holding the man in custody in Lebanon – the government or the terrorist group Hezbollah.
In order not to disrupt the negotiations, the case was kept secret until the man returned.
The talks were made difficult by the fact that Israel and Lebanon do not have normalized relations and generally only communicate through third parties – either the United States or the United Nations interim force in Lebanon, a peacekeeping unit that operates on both sides of the border.
“That was a very sensitive subject,” said Kochav.
The Israeli man was escorted back by UNIFIL through the Rosh Hanikra Crossing, one of the few border crossing points between Israel and Lebanon.
After he returned to Israel, he was handed over to Shin Bet security services for questioning.
Many details of the case remain secret due to the sensitive nature of Israel’s relations with Lebanon.
An Israeli woman crossed the border into Syria in February, sparking fierce international efforts to seek her return.
The woman was returned to Israel via Russia on February 19 as part of a deal brokered by Moscow. As part of the deal, Israel released several Syrian nationals in its care and reportedly funded the purchase of $ 1.2 million in Russia-made COVID-19 vaccines for Syrian use.
The woman, whose identity is still not allowed to be released, has reportedly had a history of mental illness.
After the woman was brought back, she reportedly told Israeli investigators that she was “looking for adventure.”
She was sentenced to eight months in prison for illegally crossing the border.