SIDON, Lebanon: Israeli forces Thursday released five Lebanese shepherds abducted earlier in the day from the Shebaa Farms, south Lebanon, a security source told The Daily Star.
Ismail Zahra and his brother, Hassan, along with three women were working on the Bastara farm when they were kidnapped, the source said. Minutes later, the women had been freed.
The Zahra brothers, minors under age 18, were released several hours later through the Naqoura border crossing, the source said.
The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon and the Lebanese Army have launched an investigation into the incident and have heard the testimony of several witnesses as well as the three women.
Upon the request of the Lebanese military, UNIFIL contacted the Israeli side, seeking the return of the two boys.
The Lebanese Army confirmed the abduction, saying that an Israeli army unit crossed the Blue Line at 11:40 a.m. and abducted the two brothers along with the three women identified as Nuhad Ali Awad, Wafaa Ali Mussa and Woroud Hussein Zahra.
In a statement, the military also said it was coordinating with UNIFIL in order to free the two boys.
The Army said the women were freed at noon Thursday, and that they had been arrested by the Israelis when they objected to the arrest of the boys.
Tensions have risen in the occupied Shebaa Farms area recently. In March, a roadside bomb planted by Hezbollah targeted an Israeli patrol near the border, also close to Bastara.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said the Shebaa attack had been intended to show Israel that the party was capable of fighting it while engaged in Syria and came in response to the bombing of a Hezbollah base in the Bekaa Valley in February.