Lebanese security forces have arrested numerous suspects In recent years for allegedly spying for Israel.

The arrests were part of an operation carried out by Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF).
The arrests were part of an operation carried out by Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF). (AP)

Lebanon has busted at least 17 suspected Israeli spy networks in one of the largest nationwide crackdowns in recent years, with a judicial source reporting 21 arrests.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi briefed the Cabinet on the busting of the spy networks "working for the Israeli enemy, and it was found that the role of these networks is local and regional," Lebanese Acting Minister of Information, Abbas al Halabi, said on Monday without adding further details.

Halabi said the rings operated both "locally and regionally," without elaborating or confirming how many people had been arrested.

The arrests were part of an operation carried out by Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF).

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the arrests had helped stop "efforts to tamper with security and sabotage the stability of the country." 

Lebanese security forces have arrested numerous suspects In recent years for allegedly spying for Israel.

Al Akhbar, a newspaper supportive of Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement called it the largest operation against suspected Israeli agents in the country for 13 years.

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Collecting data on Hezbollah's military, security sites

It said that the ISF's intelligence unit started the crackdown four weeks ago and that the detained include Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian nationals — some of whom were later released.

Their main tasks were to "collect data on Hezbollah's military and security sites" in the group's strongholds in south Lebanon, the southern suburbs of the capital Beirut and the Bekaa valley, the judicial source said.

The alleged spies also gathered information about other party leaders and political figures, the source said, adding that one of the suspects is a Hezbollah member that the group has "refused to hand over to the Lebanese judiciary".

The Al Akhbar report claimed that at least 12 of the suspects in detention were aware they working for Israel, while the rest believed they were providing information for global companies or non-profit organisations. 

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Lebanon-Israel relations

Neighbouring Lebanon and Israel remain in an official state of war.

Israel still occupies Lebanon's Shebaa Farms and Kafr Shuba hills. 

A Security Council resolution was issued in 1978 calling for a withdrawal of Israeli forces, but has not been implemented so far.

Israel and the Shia movement Hezbollah fought a 33-day war in Lebanon in 2006.

Between April 2009 and 2014, Lebanese authorities detained more than 100 people accused of spying for Israel, most of them members of the military or telecom employees. 

The rate of arrests, however, had declined in recent years. 

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Source: AA