In the midst of what should be a bustling tourist season in Tiberias, an Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, the streets are instead filled with thousands of evacuated Israelis from communities near the Lebanese border. This influx has caused the population of Tiberias to surge by 20%, making it the largest movement of Israelis in decades.
The escalating conflict between Israel and Lebanon-based militants has turned the country’s northern border area into a war zone. Hamas’ attack on Israel triggered a low intensity conflict, leading to a series of crossfires that have claimed civilian lives on both sides of the border. These developments, along with the continuous threats from Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, have raised concerns about the possibility of a full-blown confrontation and a dangerous expansion of the war.
The residents of the border town of Dovev, who have been living in Tiberias for over a month now, express their hesitation to return to their homes. The fear of another violent incursion from Hezbollah, as hinted at by Nasrallah, lingers in their minds. Hezbollah, backed by Iran and considered one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East, has been involved in conflicts across the region, including Iraq and Syria. Recent border skirmishes with Israel have escalated tensions, intensifying the frequency and territorial depth of the crossfire.
Elana Pilveny, one of the evacuated residents, adamantly states that she will never return to Dovev. She cites the recent massacre by Hamas in southern Lebanon, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people, as a stark reminder of the risks involved. Shoshana Yakut, who has lived in Dovev for decades, shares the sentiment, stating that the fear they are experiencing now surpasses anything they have encountered in previous conflicts.
The impact of the evacuation is also felt in Tiberias, which has accommodated over 10,000 evacuees in its hotels. While the residents have welcomed the newcomers, the local tourism industry has taken a hit, with empty restaurants and a lack of boat tours. Mayor Boaz Yosef acknowledges the necessity of war in Lebanon to ensure the safety of Israel. He emphasizes the need to dismantle Hezbollah’s arsenal, comprising an estimated 150,000 rockets and precision-guided munitions. Failure to take action, according to Yosef, could result in a repeat of the violence seen in southern Israel.
As tensions continue to rise, the international community is working to prevent a wider regional war. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has issued warnings to Hezbollah, expressing the potential for further military action like what was witnessed in Gaza. The situation remains volatile, and concerns persist among both the evacuated Israelis and the international community.
Q: What is the situation at the Israel-Lebanon border?
A: The border area is currently experiencing crossfire between Israel and Lebanon-based militants, leading to the evacuation of Israeli communities and raising fears of a full-blown confrontation.
Q: Who is Hezbollah?
A: Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Islamist movement and one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East. It is based on the Israel-Lebanon border and has participated in conflicts across the region.
Q: Why are Israelis hesitant to return to their homes?
A: The residents fear a potential incursion from Hezbollah, as suggested by the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Recent violent incidents in southern Lebanon have heightened their concerns.
Q: How has the conflict affected Tiberias?
A: Tiberias has seen an influx of thousands of evacuated Israelis, causing a surge in its population. However, the local tourism industry has suffered due to the ongoing conflict.
– CNN (https://www.cnn.com)