The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Tuesday it opened Israel’s border with Lebanon to agricultural workers for the olive harvest due to the economic crisis there.
The IDF released a short statement, accompanied by a video, saying that, “In light of the economic situation in Lebanon, and as a gesture of goodwill to the Lebanese people, the IDF opened the border to agricultural workers from Al Jabal, Itaron and Balida.
“The IDF allowed the workers to cross the Blue Line, to a certain extent, allowing them to harvest olive trees in Israeli territory. This gesture was reported to the Lebanese side by UNIFIL,” the statement said.
The move came just two days after Israeli authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle drugs and weapons across the border with Lebanon.
Lebanon faces an economy in freefall, rampant corruption, and the growing influence of the Hezbollah terror group. Israel is concerned this reality may trigger a spike in drug trafficking and the infiltration of migrant workers and refugees over its northern border.
Opening its border to Lebanese agricultural workers isn’t the first time Israel has offered to help Lebanon. Following the massive port blast in Beirut last year, Israel offered to send medical supplies. But the offer was denied.
Israel says any aid to Lebanon must be conditioned upon it enacting reforms to ensure critical resources don’t end up in Hezbollah’s hands.
"The source of instability in Lebanon is the terrorist organization Hezbollah that exploits the state's resources for Iranian interests," the security official an Israeli security official told journalists during a briefing attended by CBN News. "It is of vital importance to intensify international pressure to promote political and economic reforms, as a condition for infrastructural and economic assistance in order to stabilize the country.”
Further complicating Lebanon’s political and economic crisis is its ongoing dispute over the boundary lines of their territorial waters. Negotiations between the two countries could leave valuable gas reserves inaccessible to Lebanon as it battles financial turmoil.