Northern Israelis grow frustrated amid escalations on border

Residents who were forced to evacuate their homes near the Lebanon border say they feel the IDF and government don't listen to them nor act to stop Hezbollah's missile fire

Hezbollah continues to intensify its missile fire against civilian homes in Israeli towns along the Lebanon border. Missiles were fired by the Lebanese terror organization on Thursday toward the communities of Kfar Yuval, Metula, Zar'it, and Kiryat Shemona, among others.
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On Wednesday, houses and a winery in the Avivim community, a factory, and a home in Metula were hit. In response, the IDF struck at the sources of fire and targeted several terrorist infrastructures in Lebanon.
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Home hit by Hezbollah anti-tank missile in Kfar Yuval
Since the beginning of the war, over 100 observation posts and military positions along the northern border have been destroyed, as well as numerous missile launching pads, but this isn’t enough to combat the threat as a whole.
"The military keeps saying that Hezbollah has been pushed away from the border, but we see them roaming in the Maroun al-Ras area," said Shlomo Biton, a resident of Avivim. "How were they pushed away if they launch anti-tank missiles at us every day? They follow us and constantly try to shoot and kill us," he added.
The Hassin family left their home in Kfar Yuval about five months ago, and have since only visited it a few times. On Thursday, the missile fire from Lebanon hit and destroyed their home and everything in it. "We’ve been living in this house for 17 years; we’re very sad. We can't believe what happened," said Hanania Hassin.
The family members can’t reach their homes in order to assess the damage caused by the direct hit. On Thursday, it was discovered the anti-tank missile aimed at the community didn’t not only hit the local boutique winery but also struck two houses and a chicken coop on the first in the community.
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פגיעת טיל נ"ט בבית משפחת איבגי שבמושב אביבים
פגיעת טיל נ"ט בבית משפחת איבגי שבמושב אביבים
Home hit by Hezbollah missile in Avivim
One of the houses was hit for the second time after an anti-tank missile fired at it in November destroyed its entire second floor. The homeowner feared that her house would be hit for the third time following the increasing rocket fire.
The shockwaves resulting from the blast hit the home of Kobi Biton, who also owned the chicken coop that was hit and destroyed. "The damage is immense," he described. According to him, "The state isn’t really protecting us, and we realize we’re playing a game of Russian roulette. The community looks like it's experienced the Vietnam War, and we don't know when we’ll be able to return.”
Biton’s wife and three children evacuated to a hotel, and have moved to a different four times since October. "No one talks to us and tells us when we’ll be able to return home, and the government isn’t ready to decide whether to extend the current evacuation plan."
The government refused Thursday to ensure tens of thousands of northern Israeli residents who were evacuated from their homes that the state will continue to support their evacuation plan in March.
This comes after the decision in December 2023 to extend funding for the evacuation of 60,000 residents living near the northern border by only two months. Now, the government has failed to reach decisions regarding the plan’s continuation in March.
Finance Ministry Officials said that while six billion shekels were allocated to fund the residents' evacuation until July 2024, Israel’s War Cabinet isn’t ready to decide on how long the residents will remain out of their homes, and that there is no concrete plan to secure their future at this time.
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פגיעה הישירה של טיל הנ״ט ביקב במושב אביבים
פגיעה הישירה של טיל הנ״ט ביקב במושב אביבים
Damages to the winery in Avivim after it was hit by a Hezbollah missile
"We feel very bad. We've been outside of our community for almost five months," Biton added. "We feel like there's no true IDF response to these incidents except occasional retaliatory fire, and it's Nasrallah who decides how the fighting should be done. Everything he says must be taken seriously.
“It's a very unpleasant feeling to wander around the town,” he added. “There’s no warning for anti-tank missile fire; you hear a loud whistle, and then an explosion. I don't understand where this is going. It's heartbreaking; we've already had eight houses damaged.”
The communities’ residents are afraid to commit to renting apartments in order to leave the hotels they were evacuated to since they don't know when the government will decide to return them to their homes.
They demand that the government continue to fund the evacuation plan for those who rented apartments and those whose children are studying in educational systems until the end of the school year - even in the case they’ll be allowed to return to their homes in the coming months.
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