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Disputed Alawite village caught between Israel, Hezbollah

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Bilal Khatib of the Ghajar municipal council explains the unique situation of the village; located on the Israel-Lebanon-Syria border and residents' fear of being targeted.
Israeli soldiers are seen next to a sign post pointing to the village of Ghajar near Israel's border with Lebanon January 28, 2015. A Hezbollah missile strike wounded four Israeli soldiers on Wednesday, the biggest attack on Israeli forces by the Lebanese guerrilla group since a 34-day war in 2006. Israeli artillery fired at least 22 shells into open farmland in southern Lebanon after the strike, a Lebanese security source said, and thick smoke rose over the area. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL - Tags: MILITARY
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A day after the Jan. 28 Hezbollah attack on an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) convoy on Mount Dov, in which two soldiers were killed and seven injured, residents of Ghajar have yet to resume their routine. Some 2,400 people live in the small village straddling the Israel-Lebanon border, all members of the Alawite sect. Ever since the village was captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, the villagers have been defining themselves as Syrian nationals residing in Israel. In 1982, Israel designated the village a local council after annexing it under the Golan Heights Law.

Life in the village is one of perpetual, heavy concerns. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah claims Ghajar and the adjacent Shebaa Farms (Mount Dov) as occupied Lebanese territory. Ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 residents have been afraid that the village, or even part of it, will be handed over to Lebanon, given that UN representatives determined that the historic border runs right through the village — with part being Israeli territory and another part Lebanese.

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