UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lázaro on Wednesday chaired a Tripartite meeting with senior officers of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a UN position in Rosh Hanikra.
The discussion focused on the situation along the Blue Line (a demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel and Lebanon and the Golan Heights that was published by the UN in 2000 to determine whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon), and air and ground violations. The latter focused on two main issues: the two military tents that Hezbollah set up about two months ago inside Israeli territory on Har Dov; and the completion of negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on 13 points that are still in dispute between the two countries.
Lebanon’s foreign minister Abdullah Abu Habib said last month that Israel asked Lázaro in a meeting in Tel Aviv to forward a request to the Lebanese government to take steps to evacuate the Hezbollah tents. According to Abu Habib, Lázaro passed on the request in a meeting in Beirut with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri. Following the meeting, Abu Habib told reporters that Lebanese officials “want the Israelis to withdraw from Ghajar village, which is considered Lebanese territory.”
Ghajar, population 2,745, is an Alawite-Arab village on the Hatzbani River, on the border of Lebanon and Israel’s Golan Heights. the Israeli-occupied portion of Syria’s Golan Heights. As of 2023, northern Ghajar is under Israeli control, and Lebanon and Hezbollah continue to demand Israel’s withdrawal from there, as well as from the Kfarchouba hills and the Shebaa Farms. To these claims, Hezbollah has added a demand to return seven villages to Lebanese sovereignty.
On November 12, 2017, a Green Park was inaugurated in the center of the village, funded by the Israel Lottery. The park includes a fountain, lawns, a garden, and play facilities for children.
Until 2022, a barrier was placed at the entrance to the village, and entry was only allowed to residents and IDF soldiers. In September 2022, after the Ghajar council erected a fence blocking the passage to the village from Lebanon, the barriers at the entrance to the village and the restrictions on entering it from Israel were removed, and the IDF removed its barrier.
Needless to say, the folks in Ghajar village would much rather stay under Israeli rule than Hezbollah’s.