Lebanon News

Israeli jet downing celebrated in South Lebanon

Youth carry Hezbollah flags in Kfar Kila as an Israeli soldier takes pictures from Metulla, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: People across south Lebanon celebrated the downing of the Israeli fighter jet over the weekend with long lunches, nargileh and selfies with UNIFIL patrols. “The F-16 [fighter jet] is now a scrap part that can be sold by the kilogram,” said Fatima Jaber, a resident of south Lebanon.

In the town of Adaisseh in Marjayoun, dozens came to the border separating Lebanon and the Israeli settlement of Misgav Am Sunday morning to celebrate.

They brought plastic chairs, food and fruits, and took pictures with UNIFIL officers.

“I came from Nabatieh to sit here, and my feelings keep changing. I feel sad because they bombed our homes in 2006 and we had to rebuild, but also happy because the thorn of our arrogant enemy has been removed today,” Jaber said.

The atmosphere was a far cry from Saturday morning when people woke up to the sound of warplanes over the southern skies.

“In a neighboring village, the sirens were heard clearly, so people fled to shelters. We were in the fields, feeding our animals and planting our crops,” Jaafar Mustafa, a shepherd, told The Daily Star.

“In the past, we used to flee our villages and our homes, but today Israel is afraid of us,” said Arnaout, who only provided his first name, while sipping nonalcoholic beer.

He claimed Saturday’s crash was proof that the resistance had a “thousand missiles” in store for Israel if it attacked. “The enemy leaders have to think carefully,” he said.

“Perhaps this was the aircraft used during the aggression of July [Lebanon-Israel War of 2006], so today it’s an eye for an eye,” said Mohammad Tabaraj. “Our hearts are joyous.”

As the Israel military maneuvers around the south calmed around the border, dozens of young people began to march from the village of Kfar Kila in Marjayoun, playing the speeches of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah through loudspeakers while waving Hezbollah flags.

As they approached the border, Israeli soldiers came out of their watchtowers and pointed their weapons toward the marchers.

Units from the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL also patrolled the area, as they had been doing nonstop in the wake of the incidents in Syria to ensure no clashes erupted on the Blue Line.

Surface-to-air missiles fired over Syria toward the fighter jet landed in the southeastern town of Kawkaba in Hasbaya, falling in the middle of a lemon grove and near the home of farmer Shammas Shammas.

“We heard a loud voice like an explosion, but by the grace of God no one was hurt,” he told The Daily Star.

Since then, the Lebanese Army Engineering Corps have taken the remains of the missile and transferred it to a military barracks while the Army and UNIFIL units continue searching for more debris.

Missile parts also fell in the Bekaa Valley towns of Sireen al-Fawqa and Ali al-Nahri.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 12, 2018, on page 2.




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