Exclusive: Israel Pushes Separation Wall Construction, Lebanese Troops Hold Guard
Asharq Al-Awsat Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 – 12:45
Naqoura– Nazir Rida
The calm and tightened security along the southern Lebanese border is far from resembling the sound of drums of war rolling.
With that cleared, politics has managed to contain prospects of an all-out war between the two forces. But working diplomatic efforts did not stop Lebanese troops from remaining on guard in case matters take a sudden turn for the worse.
UNIFIL peace-keepers, on the other hand, maintain attentive observations as Israeli construction machines continue their work on erecting a separation wall according to plan. Nevertheless, the wall does not encroach on disputed points.
Five kilometers away, the thudding of machines is all but strange for residents in Naqoura, the last Lebanese border town with Palestine on the southernmost coast.
Locals say they have grown accustomed to hearing construction noises across the wide space.
“These are the Israeli rock-drilling mechanisms,” says a local when asked about the thudding.
“They run 8:00 am through 4:00 pm,” others added.
At the border checkpoint, all the signs point towards war almost breaking loose last week. Lebanese soldiers dug up trenches and tightened procedures and ran extensive patrols to prevent any unauthorized person from crossing into the area.
The army, side by side with intelligence, are prepared and focus all working capacity towards the Israeli construction site.
The scene is split into two, Lebanese Army troopers and three UN peacekeepers, monitoring construction on one side of the border, facing 10 workers who manage the massive wall’s construction and Israeli soldiers looking beyond cement blocks into the Lebanese side. Though soon, Israeli soldiers disappear behind the wall.
Israeli soldiers are hiding behind the wall, and the Jewish state will soon follow suit and disappear behind the five-and-a-half meters tall wall.
The wall will also block the coast of Nahariya, which is easy to see from a high ground where the Lebanese soldiers and UNIFIL members.
Nevertheless this wall, will not cross disputed points– UNIFIL and Lebanese army personnel monitor and document Israeli construction steps to prevent its construction in the border conflict zones pending the end of Lebanese diplomacy.
The wall, of which less than 100 meters have been built so far, has not been set off from the first coastal point. But from a high point east of border—launching from point D1, keeping in mind that unregistered maritime borders are an extension of the land border.
Any error of a few centimeters in the land would constitute an error of hundreds of kilometers into the sea. The maritime boundary is another matter of dispute, and Lebanon insists on its sovereignty over all its territory whether on land or into the sea.
In fact, there are no border violations at the place where the first section of the wall is now being built, which is why it is not interrupted by diplomatic efforts. The violations are located down east, since border point D1 has been agreed upon in the demarcation of the border in 1923.
There are 13 points of border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, on which Israel intends to build its wall, maximizing tension.