On Thursday, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon defined Israel’s decision to pull its troops out of the Lebanon’s Ghajar region as an ‘important step’ and hoped that it could be the beginning to stop the hostilities in that area, Ma’an reported. The Israeli cabinet decided on Wednesday to withdraw its defense forces from northern Ghajar to the south and transfer the control to UNIFIL, the U.N. Interim Force deployed along the border with Lebanon to keep the peace.
The decision has been made four years after the U.N. Security Council 1701 resolution, which after the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, ordered a ceasefire of the Hezbollah-Israel fighting and called on Israel to withdraw from al-Ghajar.
Through an official statement, Ban expressed his gratitude with the Israeli’s gesture to apply the U.N. 1701 resolution and called upon all forces to continue working amongst the U.N. to achieve stability in the Middle East.
‘The U.N. intends to continue to work closely with all parties in the coming period in a process to resolve the permanent status of Ghajar,’ he added.
Meanwhile, the residents of Ghajar, who are mostly of Syrian origin, protested, on Wednesday, against the decision and claimed they want no ‘Berlin Wall’ dividing the north from the south of their village, because that would force them to choose between Lebanon or Israel, Haaretz reported.
‘We don’t know what’s going to happen when the Israelis pull back. We’re afraid the village will be cut in two, and in Ghajar we’re all one big family,’ local council head Ahmed Fatali told Haaretz.
The village of Ghajar, situated in a strategic corner across the boundaries between Syria, Israel and Lebanon, was captured by Israel from Syria in 1967 and has so far changed hands three times over the last century.
Following Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Ghajar was split between Lebanon and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. However, Israel reoccupied the northern part of the village in the 2006 war launched against Lebanon.