Protests in Lebanon continue in support of Palestine

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is celebrated on posters made by the movement’s supporters, the dominant demographic in the south of Lebanon [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]

Adaisseh, Lebanon – Protests in solidarity with Palestine continue in Lebanon with marches planned on Monday as Israeli air raids killed nearly 200 people in Gaza.

Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians travelled to the border with Israel on Sunday for the third consecutive day, proudly waving Palestinian flags and banners of the Hezbollah and Amal movements.

Suzanne al-Akhtah, 39, from Ain al-Hilweh camp in Saida, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, shouted in rage from the hill she was standing on, expressing her longing to visit her home in Haifa, now within the borders of Israel.

“I’m coming here to see my country because I can’t step in my country, I can’t go back to my country, so I want to see it from here,” al-Akhtah explained to Al Jazeera.

“The right is with us… We’re the people of the cause and hopefully, the youngest Palestinian child will get to go to Palestine and step foot in their homeland.”

Suzanne al-Akhtah, 39, lives in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh in Saida [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]

More than 400,000 Palestinian refugees are registered in Lebanon, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, though only about half are estimated to still live in the country, which is currently facing extreme economic hardship.

“Why don’t we have any rights? Why are we refugees? We don’t want to be refugees. The land is ours we want to go back… We cry for our land,” al-Akhtah said.

Hezbollah has called for a march through its stronghold of Dahieh in south Beirut on Monday night, with the turnout expected to be high considering the area hosts 20,000 Palestinian refugees.

Centre of all Arab causes

Dozens of Lebanese soldiers, along with peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), were deployed to keep the people at a safe distance from the wall.

Along the border wall leading to the village of Adaisseh, families took selfies with their children overlooking historical Palestine, while men sat in social clusters.

Born in what he described as a Hezbollah resistance village in the south of Lebanon, Ali Khiam, 25, told Al Jazeera the Palestinian’s plight is the centre of all Arab causes.

“What is happening in Palestine is very harsh and we are here trying to help them in any way by standing here in solidarity, and on social media with our words,” Khiam said, adding he hoped to one day be able to enter Palestine.

Young men use ropes to climb the border wall with Israel as soldiers ready to fire rubber-coated steel bullets [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]

Below, at the foot of the concrete wall topped with metal fencing, about 30 young men attempted to knock down the metal fence and a door in the wall.

Some took turns to pull themselves up a rope they tied to the wall to attach Palestinian and Hezbollah flags, as Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets into the air.

About 100 people were spread out at the top of the hill, cheering on the men and cursing the Israelis.

One of the locals told Al Jazeera the men were showing bravery in climbing the wall, given that Lebanese citizen Mohamed Tahan had been shot and killed by Israeli forces on Friday.

The Lebanese government condemned the attack. His body, carried by fellow Hezbollah members, was laid to rest in Adloun on Saturday.

Lebanese soldiers were deployed along the border to try and deter protesters from getting too close to the wall [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]

Mohammad, 29, who asked his last name be withheld as he travels regularly for work, told Al Jazeera he is proud of the number of people going to the border, though he is against people climbing the wall.

“I just want to stand in solidarity and peace at the border. I don’t see anything else coming from climbing the wall, except a war,” Mohammad said.

“I need to have something to fight with to go and free the Palestinians, I can’t just climb the wall and face the Israelis. This poses a danger for my country and a possible war.”

‘Peaceful ways to show solidarity’

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war and captured a strip of land in 1985. The Israeli army withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 and UNIFIL was tasked with monitoring the withdrawal.

Crowds of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese citizens amass on the hill overlooking the border with Israel, cheering on young men climbing the wall [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]

In 2006, Lebanon faced its own war with Israel sparked by a cross-border raid by Hezbollah, which had taken over the south of Lebanon. More than 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed.

The Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi warned of exposing Lebanon to new wars in his Sunday sermon.

“These uncontrolled conflicts have cost all the Lebanese people enough [and] the Lebanese people are not ready to destroy their country again, more than it has already been destroyed,” al-Rahi said.

“There are peaceful ways to show solidarity with the Palestinian people without getting involved on a military level.”

While there were no injuries on Sunday, three people wounded on Saturday at the border were taken to Marjayoun Hospital, two with injuries sustained by tear gas inhalation and one after falling from the wall.

Wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and bearing the flag of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, this woman was the oldest in attendance at solidarity protests in the Lebanese border village of Adaisseh [Tessa Fox/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera