Confronting Israel: Houses of Defiance
By: Dany al-Amine
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Thursday marks the anniversary of the start of the July 2006 War which Israel launched against Lebanon. Israel’s declared goal for the war was to eradicate Hezbollah’s resistance. Six years later, people building homes on the Lebanese southern border feel safe despite Israel’s continuous threats.
“When those sycophants speak about the weapons of the resistance, I remember 1982 and the period before that. Back then, nobody knew how to use weapons. Most of the residents of the region emigrated to Saida and Beirut, fleeing the attacks against their properties, livelihoods, and lives,” remarks Mohamed Sawli from the southern town of Taybe about the current debate surrounding calls to disarm the resistance.
He still has not forgotten “the sounds of Israeli tanks moving in and out of the town or the sounds of buildings being demolished and women screaming.” He cannot understand how some Lebanese are calling for disarmament.
“Even as a child, I found this exploitation of our land to be an odd thing and wanted the army or any weapons to protect me,” says Sawli.
Shadi, another resident, remembers how his father used to burn nationalist newspapers for fear of getting arrested or his house blown up if the Israelis found them.
Badih Koteish from Houla revisits 1948, “the day the Zionists came into the village and committed a massacre, killing more than 75 men, young and old.”
A long time passed before liberation and their return to their villages. They built new homes with money they had saved during their long years as refugees.
“Do those calling for disarmament understand that the hundreds of houses along the borders would not have been built without the armed presence of a stubborn resistance?” asks Sawli.
Hundreds of homes have been built in the border towns of Adaisseh, Markaba, Mays al-Jabal, Blida, Aytaroun, and Maroun al-Ras.
In Yaroun, deluxe buildings proliferate. They indicate the wealth of their owners who immigrated to many countries and came back to spend their money on expensive modern construction.
They are now facing problems in buying new properties due to the increase in the number of buildings whose owners are still outside the country.
Modern and luxurious buildings also abound in Marjeyoun. Dozens of buildings suddenly popped up on the borders following the July  war, especially on the Adaisseh main road opposite the Kfar Giladi colony.
“Many of the residents who built their homes along the borders were not born in the town and never lived there before. Some are even from Beirut. Two new mansions were built recently by the Itani and Hoss families,” remarks Adaisseh resident Khalil Rammal.
Dozens of houses are spread along the borders on the main road between Markaba and Houla. Hussein al-Ashkar says that “there are deluxe houses here that cost their owners hundreds of thousands of US dollars.”
“More than 600 houses were built here following liberation in 2000. The construction continued following the July war. Everybody should know that this is thanks to the resistance and its efficient weapons,” he explains.
In Houla itself, new constructions face the famous Abbad military site, which has been transformed into a neighborhood of mansions whose stone buildings are adjacent to the borders.
The town of Mays al-Jabal has become the place to go for the residents of Marjeyoun and Bint Jbeil who want to furnish their homes. It has all their household needs and appliances.
More than 40 private enterprises selling furniture and home appliances are spread along the main road of a small town on the borders with Palestine. The town “suffered from more than 20 years of occupation. But thousands of citizens now live and work there due to the security provided by the weapons.”
The indifference the residents show towards their hostile neighbors reflects their trust in the strength of the resistance and Israel’s inability to go to war at this time.
Shukri Qassem lives a few meters from the Abbad former Israeli position. He emphasizes that “what provokes the residents is not the Israeli soldiers hiding a few meters away, but the noisy calls for the removal of our weapons of safety, in total disregard of our presence, the secret behind it, and building our homes here.”
The talk of the residents near the Israeli separation fence is mostly about who might be funding these calling for disarmament and the expulsion of people from South Lebanon residing in the UAE.
“Can those calling for disarmament ensure that their salaries will remain if their demands are met? Don’t they know that their work will stop?” a resident asks.
Ahmed Atwi remarks that “everyone here understands that if there is not a deterrent and trustworthy force, Israel will desecrate the area whenever it pleases. This is what experience has taught us.”
Ali Salman remembers that “the Israeli enemy committed a massacre in Houla in 1948, because there was no deterrent force. It did similar things and occupied lands without any international intervention or accountability.”
“This is why the resistance appeared and attained such power. If it is disarmed, more than 20 years of struggle and strenuous resistance work will be destroyed. I doubt that [Salafi] sheikh Ahmad al-Assir and others are informed about the history and causes of the war with Israel.”
“In any case, [Assir] should know that if he is someday capable of realizing his wishes, and those of the US and the Israelis, to disarm [the resistance], this will mean the displacement of all the residents of border areas. They did not build them by the borders because they liked to look at the colonies [in Israel]. It is because they trust that a force exists that can protect them, their children, and their land.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.