Some 1,800 residents of the village of Ghajar, which sits on the border between Israel and Lebanon, protested Friday against the decision published in as-of-yet unconfirmed reports to divide the village and hand over its northern section to UNIFIL control. The demonstrators marched through both sections of the village in protest of the plan.
Council and residents spokesman, Najib Hatib, said to Ynet that the residents are determined to prevent the division of their village and UN entry into the village. "We are prepared to die, but this division will not come to be," he said.
In recent months, there have been many discussions in the political echelons on the future of the village, which is currently entirely under Israeli sovereignty, during which the defense establishment suggested that the option of transferring the northern part of the village to the UN be weighed. Yet, thus far, no decision has been made on the issue.
'You don't cut a person in half.' Ghajar protest on Friday (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
This week, it was reported that a decision was made during recent discussions of the issue to transfer responsibility for the northern section of the village to UNIFIL control by the end of January, but no official confirmation of this has been made. Last month, a Lebanese newspaper reported that Israel "is prepared to withdraw from the village within a matter of hours."
The demonstrators on Friday also said they don't know if and when the plan will be carried out.
"The implication of division is splitting families and people that have always lived together," added Hatib. "The implication is blocking the residents from their land, which stretches over 1,500 dunams (370 acres). We are not willing to build a wall in the middle of the village. The Berlin Wall was already taken down, and there will not be another wall like that here."
Hatib complained that the government has not informed the residents of its intentions and they are left in the dark regarding their future. "We are fed by the media," said Hatib. "We have not heard any reliable information on what is going to happen here. It is a shame that there is such a disconnect."
Hatib added that the residents are considering their next steps, which may include a petition to the High Court.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report