Despite withdrawal, Israel still controls infrastructure in disputed Lebanon village
State has begun upgrading Ghajar's sewer system, after fears arose that the nearby Snir River had been contaminated by the village's local waste.
A year after the cabinet decided to withdraw from the northern part the village of Ghajar, the state has begun building up the infrastructure in the northern part of the village.
The construction is the first of its kind since 2006, and focuses on upgrading the sewer system, after fears arose that the nearby Snir River (Hasbani) had been contaminated by the village's local waste.
Dr. Doron Merkel, of the Israeli Water Authority, previously told Haaretz that the state must hurry and connect the village to the sewage system in order to “prevent a future situation in which the northern part of the village will not be able to be connected, due to political implications.”
Merkel further stated that not connecting the village may lead to a sever sewage overflow into the Snir River, which may endanger the quality of the water in the Sea of Galilee.
Merkel further stated that the fact that Israel decided to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar creates a situation in which Israel will not be able to connect it to its sewage infrastructure in the future.
According to Gershon Sharon, the head of the company charged with implementing the NIS 4 million project, there are several homes in the village that are not connected to the sewage system, while the project’s contractor claimed that some of the existing infrastructure dates back before 1967, and allows for leakage of sewage into ground water.
Like the 18,000 Druze in the Golan Heights, Ghajar residents were Syrians when Israel occupied the region.
But unlike the Druze, the villagers - who are members of the Alawite Islamic minority - accepted Israeli nationality when the Golan was annexed in 1981.
Over the years, the village expanded northward. In 2000, when the UN demarcated the border, Ghajar's northern half came under Lebanese control and the other half remained Israeli territory.
Israel retook the Lebanese part in its 2006 war against Hezbollah militants, and has since built a security fence to prevent militants from entering the enclave.
The strange reality leaves the residents of Ghajar in a bind. Despite the different mechanisms put in place over the past 11 years to provide them security solutions, the residents’ lives are difficult and often intolerable.