Lebanese family reunites after 6 years

Friday, August 25, 2006 |  by Nicole Jansezian
Lebanese family reunites after 6 years When Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon six years ago, some 350 families from south Lebanon fled with them, choosing to live in Israel rather than face retribution from Hizballah for fighting against them.

Now, about 2,500 Lebanese live in Israel, full citizens of the Jewish State and still integrating. Make that 2,503.

With her two sons and daughter, a Lebanese woman who hadn't seen her husband since he escaped to Israel in May 2000 came to the Israeli border this week begging for refuge after being threatened by Hizballah operatives in her southern Lebanese village.

Israeli soldiers, suspicious at first, arrested the woman and her children. The family was soon united with their husband and father who lives in central Israel. He was in the South Lebanese Army (SLA), an Israeli-backed militia that helped provide security and fight Hizballah during the Israeli presence in Lebanon from 1982-2000.

Other Lebanese refugees spoke to Israel Today about their flight from Lebanon and struggles of living in Israel while their families remain in Lebanon.

Rabiye Abu Sahad said that as she watched the desperate escape from Lebanon of thousands of tourists and foreigners, she recalled her own flight from the country six years ago: Keys still in the ignition, her family abandoned their car and fled on foot over the Israeli border.

“I know what its like to run from that country,” she said of her motherland.

Israel’s unilateral pullout from Lebanon in 2000 was sudden. There was a traffic jam of other SLA fighters and their families at the border when word soon trickled down the line of cars: Hizballah terrorists were on their way to the border. That prompted many terrified Lebanese to flee on foot. Approximately 6,000 sought refuge in Israel.

Unlike many Israeli Arabs who have expressed sympathy for Hizballah, several Lebanese who spoke with Israel Today expressed their appreciation of Israel and even supported its assault on Hizballah.

Full article in the September issue of Israel Today

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