KFAR CHOUBA, Lebanon -- Israeli soldiers fired tear gas to disperse scores of protesters who pelted the troops with stones along the border with Lebanon on Friday, leaving some Lebanese demonstrators and troops suffering breathing problems.
The tension on the edge of the Lebanese border village of Kfar Chouba began earlier this week over the Israeli military digging in the area that Lebanon claims.
On Wednesday, a Lebanese villager tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer from digging a trench along the border. Once the villager's legs were covered with sand as the bulldozer moved ahead, U.N. peacekeepers jumped in and persuaded the driver to move back. Videos of the elderly man with his legs stuck in the sand dune went viral on social media.
Israel ended an 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon when its troops withdrew from the area in May 2000.
Friday's protest took place on the edge of Kfar Chouba hills, which Beirut says is Lebanese land occupied by Israel. Kfar Chouba hills and the nearby Chebaa Farms are areas Israel captured during the 1967 Mideast War.
On Friday, some of the protesters tried to break through a fence in the rugged area overlooked by an Israeli military post. Israeli forces fired tear gas to disperse them, while Lebanese troops and U.N. peacekeepers later moved in and pushed the protesters back.
"DO NOT CROSS THE BLUE LINE," read a banner in Arabic, English and French that a U.N. peacekeeper carried, referring to the border drawn after Israel's withdrawal in 2000. Israeli troops and several vehicles, including a heavily-armored Merkava tank, were seen in the area.
Lebanese troops were on alert in the area, and reinforcements were brought in.
In a statement, the Israeli military said protesters tried to damage a border barrier and threw stones at Israeli soldiers in the area. The military said forces responded with "riot dispersal means," which typically means tear gas or stun grenades. The military said it "would not allow any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty."
The protesters later held Friday prayers in the area and then tried to sneak in again, leading to more tear gas fire.
Friday's tension came a day after the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lazaro, chaired a meeting with senior Lebanese and Israeli officers at the U.N. headquarters along the border. The general appealed for restraint along the border and work on reducing tensions.
VIOLENCE IN WEST BANK
Elsewhere, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Friday, and the military said the man attacked a solider before he was shot.
The army said the man arrived at the checkpoint near Ramallah city in a stolen vehicle, attacked the soldier that was inspecting his papers and tried to steal his weapon. Another soldier shot the Palestinian assailant. The soldier was lightly wounded.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the man as Mahdi Biadsa, 29. His body is being held by the Israeli military, which said it was investigating the incident and whether it was a criminal attack or part of a wave of rising violence.
Information for this article was contributed by Tia Goldenberg, Bassem Mroue and staff members of The Associated Press.