BEIRUT: Residents of southern Lebanon marched Friday on the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, raising the national flag there in protest of the Israeli army's construction of a road in the area.
The march was held in defiance to the Israeli military's continuing presence in Shebaa Farms, after the army halted its work on the road following the collision of a military vehicle and a bulldozer which left several Israelis injured.
"We are the sons of this land and will not remain idle as the Israeli army constantly violates Lebanon's sovereignty", Shebaa native and MP Qassem Hashem told reporters as he joined protesters, while adding that Lebanon's will and determination would prevail as it did in 2000 and 2006.
Hashem didn't hold back on his criticism of the Lebanese government, blasting their inaction saying "our government should be ashamed of itself because Lebanon is the rightful owner of these lands and we shall liberate them."
The protest marked a tense afternoon on the Lebanese border, with UN peacekeepers and Lebanese soldiers remaining vigilant, and about 500 Israeli soldiers deployed to the area along with snipers seen positioned between nearby trees.
Israel's military has been constructing a road along the Shebaa Farms for the past five days, seen by many as an attempt to expand its reach and create a passage between that section of the farms and the neighboring occupied Kfar Shuba hills.
That very same area was the site of an Oct. 7, 2000, operation in which Hezbollah managed to capture three Israeli soldiers, whose remains were later part of a prisoner exchange agreement.
The Shebaa Farms, which are located on the intersection of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, were annexed by Israel in 1981, a move not recognized by the international community. The area has been a flashpoint for violence ever since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000; however, it remained under Israeli control.
Numerous attempts to reclaim the lands have taken place throughout the years, with the latest diplomatic initiative coming from Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who asked Friday Lebanon's mission to the United Nations to file a complaint with the U.N Security Council over "Israel's outrageous violation of resolution 1701." This peace-deal is credited with ending the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war.
Despite the fact that the prospects of liberating these lands look unrealistic, southern Lebanese residents remain defiant, with one protester telling reporters at the scene "We do not fear death, and we dare the Israeli soldiers to come near us."
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