When Israeli Arab Chateeb Najeeb heard explosions in his village on the border with Lebanon on Monday, he turned on the Arabic station Al-Jazeera to find out what was going on.
The 38-year-old soon realized that the explosions he heard in his native Raja r were mortar shells launched from Lebanon, and that Hizbullah activists had tried to infiltrate his village with plans for an attack. "This never happened before," Najeeb said in a phone interview. "We turned on the television and we saw that people ente red the village and wanted to do harm."
Since 1967, when Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, people on the Israeli side of Rajar do not talk to those on the Lebanese side of this Alawite village, which is located just south of Mount Dov, he said.
"We have Israeli citizenship," Najeeb continued. "We are not like people in Gaza or another place. We are Israelis... We have lived in Israel almost 40 years."
On Monday afternoon, residents of the village were confined to their homes because of the attack. In the evening, Israeli soldiers brought food and water to the villagers.
"We thank them a lot. They helped us a lot," Najeeb said of the soldiers. "They gave us drinks, food. They gave us what we wanted... Now the situation is difficult. We won't forget in our lives what happened" on Monday. Najeeb said he considers Israeli soldiers to be like his children, since they have protected his people and watched over them.
On Monday, Mahmoud Kahmouz of Rajar was lightly injured from a mortar shell whi ch fell close to him while he walked to work at an agricultural field outside the village, Najeeb said. He was treated for light injuries at Zeev Hospital in Safed and released on Tuesday, a hospital employee said.
The residents of Rajar remained indoors Tuesday because of the risk of additional attacks. Schools in the village were closed and no one went to work, Najeeb said.
Telephone calls to the village's local council were unanswered on Tuesday. "I hope that there will be peace and that there won't be [mortar] shells, and there won't be anyone killed," Najeeb said. "We hope that there will be peace in the world... Enough of the killings. We are all a family, all sons of our father Abraham - Jews and Arabs." i
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