Six years after the last conflict between Hizbollah and Israel, it looks like history is repeating itself in the Middle East. Nahariya, the most frequently bombarded town in northern Israel during the last three weeks, carries the scars from the most recent conflict but also those of the past. Eight kilometres from the border live some 700 soldiers from a force of nine thousand Lebanese who fought side-by-side with their Israeli counterparts against Hizbollah.
“Many of us want to take up arms again with the Israeli army,” says former colonel Georges Riyk. “But they don’t want us. I think they are afraid of what we might do with the weapons.”
Claire is one of the hundreds of Lebanese refugees living in Nahariya. Her soldier husband died in Israel three years ago, but for Claire and her family there was never any question of returning:
“We are torn in two between here and Lebanon,” she says. “We think of our family there, we have no contact with them. We don’t know what’s happening.”
Up until May 2000, Israel was the occupying force in Southern Lebanon. Alone in a ghost town, these Lebanese exiles are in a vulnerable position.