November 28, 2005

View from the other side

Michael Totten reports:

Al Ghajar village, where the fighting broke out, is an odd place. One side is Lebanese. The other side is controlled by Israel. All the villagers on both sides of the border are Alawite, a minority sect -- some say heretical -- that long ago splintered off Shia Islam. Historically the village was part of Syria. The Alawites of Al Ghajar belong to the same ethnic-religious group that holds almost all the levers of power in Syria.

The Lebanese side of the village is the poorest and most forlorn place I've seen anywhere in the country. Many houses are crumbling cinderblock boxes or shanties with tin roofs and walls. The mosque is squalid. Barren ground is strewn with rubble and rocks. I saw barefoot children dressed in rags playing in filthy streets. Somehow they managed to smile.

The Israeli half of the village is on the other side of the Wazzani River. There the houses and apartment buildings are trim and freshly painted. They're decked out with satellite dishes. Cars look brand new. I saw no evidence of squalor from where I stood on the Lebanese side of the line.

From 1967 to 2000 both sides of Al Ghajar were controlled by Israel after it took the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six Day War. But in the year 2000, when Israel withdrew its occupation forces from South Lebanon, the United Nations declared that one side of the village is actually Lebanese, not Syrian.

UPDATE: Pictures! Really amazing, must see.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at November 28, 2005 08:45 PM | TrackBacks
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