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 firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008