Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Hizb'allah Encroaches On Divided Border Village
ICEJ NEWS - 08/22/2001
Tensions increased over recent days in the disputed Har Dov region along the Israeli-Lebanese border, after Hizb'Allah forces set up a roadblock just outside the divided border village of Ghajar.
Ghajar is an Alawite village on the slopes of Mount Hermon that straddles the border, with the southern half in Israel and the northern half in Syria. Although the UN declared it formerly part of Syria, both Damascus and Beirut now claim it is Lebanese territory, thereby giving Hizb'Allah a pretext for continuing the fight against Israel's "occupation" in Lebanon.
The villagers of Ghajar, however, maintain they are Syrians and pleaded with the UN not to divide the town when it mapped out its "Blue Line" on the ground last summer, saying they preferred to remain part of Israel until a deal with Syria determined their fate.
The village is the only unfenced section along the northern border, making it an area of lingering security concerns over the past year. These concerns sharpened in recent weeks as Lebanese journalists and others have been regularly visiting Ghajar.
Last week, local residents announced that they intended to erect a security fence around the northern perimeter of their village. But this was met with opposition from the Lebanese and especially Hizb'Allah, which moved quickly to establish a roadblock on the old road leading from Lebanon into the northern end of town.
This led the IDF to declare the southern part of town a closed military zone over the weekend, fearing Hizb'Allah might be trying to kidnap more Israelis. In reaction, a delegation of Lebanese, mainly Hizb'Allah activists led by Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, paid a visit to northern Ghajar on Sunday. This prompted even stricter Israeli security measures, which in turn sparked a protest by local residents this week against the new IDF identity checks and searches on the southern edge of town. Villagers have now been holding negotiations with Hizb'Allah about the restrictions on access from the Lebanese side as well.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.