Media Gather Near Border for Ahmadinejad Visit

The residents of Avivim, a moshav near the border fence with Lebanon, had not enjoyed this kind of media attention since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Back then, most of the residents were in bomb shelters - this time it was different.

Lebanon demonstration- AFP- Oct.14, 2010

Dozens of journalists, both local and foreign, had come to a hilltop spot from which they could see the southern Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras, the site of one of the hardest fought battles of the war. The foreign reporters, many of whom had colleagues covering the same story on the Lebanese side of the fence, were interested to know what would happen if the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was on a visit to Lebanon, turned up near the border.

However, things stayed very calm until the end of the day, without any noticeable activity except for the presence of the media. Flags of Iran, Hezbollah and Lebanon could be seen in the Lebanese village, and some had thought that Ahmadinejad would come there to take a look at northern Israel.

At about 4:30 P.M., Hezbollah radio announced that the "great visitor" had arrived at the village soccer field, and a small aircraft flew overhead, which caused the IAF to scramble two helicopters that patrolled the skies of the western Galilee.

For their part, the residents of Avivim were indifferent to what was taking place, but some took advantage of the media presence to send a message not to the Iranian president, but to the government of Israel.

Yeshayahu Peretz, 65, one of the veteran residents of the moshav, called on the Iranian president to come visit his community. "I will slaughter a sheep for him. Look at what he has done to Maroun al-Ras. All was destroyed during the war, and now everything is new and dozens of new homes have been built. We have not received a thing. They talk about support and budgets for moshavim, and bolstering the north, but we see nothing of that. Over there in Lebanon there is no bureaucracy and no Israel Lands Administration," he complained.

MK Ayoob Kara (Likud ) said that "even though officially the government has chosen to ignore the visit I came to tell the media that Israel wants peace and that Ahmadinejad poses a threat to humanity."

Kara arranged for blue and white balloons to be released near the border, hoping they would cross over into Lebanon. Alas, the wind blew them south.