Israel allows visitors to 'closed' occupied Lebanon border town

Israel allows visitors to 'closed' occupied Lebanon border town
The southern half of the village of Ghajar has been occupied by the Israeli army since the 1967 war.
2 min read
08 September, 2022
Ghajar has been treated as a 'closed military zone' by occupying Israeli forces [Getty]

Israel will allow visitors to enter an occupied village on the Lebanon border after a fence was erected separating it from the Lebanese section.

Ghajar was taken by the Israeli military during a surprise 1967 offensive that saw much of the Golan Heights captured by Israel from Syria and remains in a complex situation status.

The predominantly Alawite village, home to around 2,500 people, was effectively split in two after Israel's withdrawal from occupied southern Lebanon in 2000 with the southern section under Israeli control and the northern part in Lebanon.

The UN recognised the Lebanese border territory as being part of the Syrian Golan Heights prior to its capture, and while its status remains complicated the international community considers it illegally occupied Israeli land.

On Thursday, local media reported that Israeli military restrictions on people entering and leaving the village had effectively ended after a local council constructed a perimeter fence separating the northern section from Lebanon, including cameras and sensors.

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Ghajar locals, who mostly hold Israeli and Lebanese passports, were exempt from the checks although officially it remains a "closed military zone".

The easing of restrictions has not been officially announced by the Israeli government, but sources told Haaretz that Israeli soldiers and police will no longer check people entering Ghajar and visitors will no longer need a permit to visit the village.

In the early 2000s, Hezbollah had attempted several raids on Israeli posts in the village including one successful attempt that kicked start a war between the two sides, resulting in the deaths of between 5,000 to 8,000 Lebanese civilians.

Israel also illegally occupies the nearby Shebaa Farms area, which lies on the Lebanon-Syrian border.