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ERR in Israel: Settlements along Lebanon border deserted for months now

IDF personnel close to the Israel-Lebanon border.
IDF personnel close to the Israel-Lebanon border. Source: ERR

While the current war involving Israel focuses on the Gaza strip and strikes on that zone following the Hamas attack of October 7 last year, residents in the North of the country near to the border with Lebanon have also been heavily affected, with another militant group, Hezbollah, engaging in missile strikes on Israeli territory as well, in the largest confrontation in that region since 2006.

This means that settlements in the border area close to Lebanon have also been practically deserted since the autumn, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) reported from the scene.

Kibbutz Rosh HaNikra, built in 1949 with the foundation of the modern-day state of Israel and located right on the Lebanese border, has been largely devoid of people since the October 2023 attacks launched from Gaza, around 200 kilometers to the South,.

Only local residents coming to collect belongings are even permitted by the authorities to enter, AK reported.

Also on the border is the town of Shlomi, pre-war population of around 7,000, but now down to about 4-5 percent of that total, with most people having been evacuated.

This all costs money, however.

On Shlomi resident, Shirel, told AK she now has to rent an apartment in Tel Aviv, and receives state aid to help for this. How long might this continue to be the situation? " I think half a year at least. The condition here is not very good," she told AK.

The town's deputy mayor told AK that nonetheless, plans for contingencies such as those being experienced since the fall have already been put in place

"We have a good country with a strong economy, so we have a program for this, we knew what will be. We had a program already ready, we have been preparing this for 10 years. We knew it would be coming," he told AK.

Some people congregate in a local synagogue for a few hours before returning to other locations in Israel where they are now residing.

Shlomi resident Fanny said: "The city is empty. I live here, but not now, because I'm afraid. You see, just over there is Lebanon."

Ominous rumblings can be heard from the mountainous terrain to the North, but another local resident, Jonathan, says that this does not disturb him unduly, adding he is remaining in Shlomi, where he runs a diner.

Hezbollah is not likely to venture a serious strike, he told AK: "This is ok. Everything is OK. This is a game for him, it's ok.. Money is b*llsh*t. I have my way, and we stay here, and I don't care about anything otherwise."

In any case, a small air-raid shelter is set up close to Jonathan's diner.

Another local resident, Leah, spoke in more absolutist terms, referencing a deity: "They think now is the time to kill all the Jews. But the Jews are very strong, and we have God."

The original AK slot (in Estonian and English) is here.

Established over 40 years ago during the Lebanon War of 1982, Hezbollah, too, invokes a deity, in its naming convention – the term means "Party of God" in Arabic. Following a Shia rather than Sunni polity, the group is closely identified with Iran.

It is designated a terrorist organization by Estonia, the U.S. and the U.K. as well as by Israel and around 18 other states.

On October 8, the group launched missile strikes and artillery fire on the area of Shebaa Farms, in the Golan Heights, around 100 kilometers to the East of Shlomi following the Hamas strike of October 7, which Hezbollah spokespersons had praised. Israel responded with drone strikes.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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