Ghajar: between a rock and a hard place

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
The Arab village of Ghajar on the Israeli-Lebanese border has been in a tough spot for the past six years. Ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the village has been split right down the middle between Israel and Lebanon making it a hotbed for both intelligence transfer to the Hizballah, and narcotics traffic into Israel.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter visited the village yesterday under heavy guard and received a briefing from military, police, and General Security Services officials as to the current dangers the village poses due to its location. The officers spoke about the cooperation between criminal and terror elements in the village and illustrated the drugs-for-information activities conducted by Hizballah and Israeli criminal elements.

"While we are sitting here, dozens of kilos of drugs are making their way into Israel through the village. Even today Hizballah is controlling the fence and everything goes through it," an officer said in the briefing. "This is an equation of drugs for terrorism and intelligence," said another officer on the scene.

Because of its problematic location, split between Israel and Lebanon, the issue of the village of Ghajar has been a major point of vulnerability in the Israel Defense Forces’ efforts to secure the northern border. Other than the criminal activities taking place there, Hizballah has had numerous attempts to attack the village and the IDF outposts there, including a botched attempt to kidnap soldiers earlier this year.

Minister Dichter said at the end of the tour and briefing that visiting the village was extremely important to understand the situation on the ground, and that he will be working on recommendations he will present to the cabinet in a short time.

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