Jerusalem – The Israeli Arab residents of Ghajar, located on the northern Israeli border with Lebanon, are trying to put an end to a plan to transfer the northern part of their village to U.N. control within Lebanon’s borders.

The local council of Ghajar sent an urgent letter on Tuesday to the commander of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL), in Lebanon, and to the U.N.’s deputy secretary-general, demanding that all plans to transfer the jurisdiction of their village be dropped.

“We only receive information from the media,” said Ghajar village Secretary Najib Khatib. “We are not willing for the families to be separated, and we are not willing to be uprooted from our lands. It is unthinkable for two sides to discuss our fate without including us and without considering our opinion and listening to our hardships.”

Mr. Khatib said that since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, the village’s residents have been living in an intolerable situation.

At the time, Israel turned over the decision on determining the border line to the U.N., and the latter imposed what they felt was a new and intolerable reality.

It was decided that the border between Lebanon and Israel would pass in the center of Ghajar, and that the Israeli army and police forces were not permitted to enter the northern part of the village.

Since then, the residents have been suffering from severe problems in receiving basic municipal and humanitarian services.

 However, it was decided not to build a fence in the center of the village, but rather north of it – so its residents would not be separated from their families and their agricultural lands.

Now, the residents fear that this reality, though harsh, will change for the worse.

“We will not agree to be separated from our families and distanced from our lands,” wrote Mr. Khatib. “We have already felt like we were imprisoned for the past eight years. There is a slogan, ‘let the animals live,’ and we say, ‘let the residents of Ghajar live.’ Our situation is much worse than the poor animals.”

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.