update deskIsrael at War

Northern town ‘severs ties’ with Israeli gov’t, army

The decision reportedly followed Jerusalem's failure to compensate Margaliot for damage caused by a 2020-2021 bird flu outbreak.

Kobi Sarmili, a farmer in Margaliot, uses a water hose to cool his chickens during a heavy heat wave at the farm, Aug. 14, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
Kobi Sarmili, a farmer in Margaliot, uses a water hose to cool his chickens during a heavy heat wave at the farm, Aug. 14, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

Margaliot, an agricultural settlement in the Galilee panhandle bordering Southern Lebanon, on Monday announced the town’s plans to “sever contact with the Israeli government” over local leaders’ dismay with Jerusalem’s plan to rehabilitate the north, Kipa News reported.

“Margaliot has decided to sever contact with the Israeli government and remove all soldiers from Margaliot. Notice has been given to the [IDF] territorial defense officer,” said Eitan Davidi, the moshav’s chairman.

“We are also closing the moshav’s situation room and the town gates. No one will enter or leave the moshav, including the army. The emergency standby squad will find another place to stay,” he continued.

The local leader claimed that “Margaliot is directly harmed by the decision of the government and the Ministry of Agriculture, which cause greater damage than Hezbollah’s anti-tank missiles.”

According to Israel’s Walla news outlet, the community’s anger mainly stems from the Agriculture Ministry’s persistent failure to compensate Margaliot for some indirect damages caused by the 2020-2021 bird flu outbreak, estimated at some 8-9 million shekels ($2.2-2.5 million).

Walla said Margaliot expected to receive the compensation as part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 3.5 billion shekel ($950 million) plan to rehabilitate the north, which was unveiled on Monday. However, the town was reportedly informed that there are legal limitations to reimbursing them under the plan, and no other compensation scheme has yet been found.

“Israeli farmers, including the farmers of the north and Margaliot, guard the borders and take care of our collective food security,” the ministry said in a statement cited by Hebrew media. The office said it was working with the Finance Ministry to find a solution for the problem, along with a “unique support procedure” in light of the war.

Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen outlet had both claimed that Davidi’s announcement was primarily triggered by Hezbollah’s attacks against the Jewish state.

Margaliot is among the northern communities that have been largely evacuated since Iran-backed Hezbollah joined Hamas’s war against the Jewish state following the Gaza terrorists’ Oct. 7 onslaught in the south.

On March 4, an anti-tank missile from Lebanon struck a plantation in Margaliot, killing a worker from India and wounding nine others.

The town, which had a population of 400 people before the start of the war, has hosted Israel Defense Forces troops who guard the border.

On Tuesday, evacuees from Israel’s north set up a tent encampment outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to protest their ongoing displacement due to the daily attacks by Hezbollah terrorists.

“We’ve been unable to return to our homes for more than seven months. We won’t go back until we know we’re safe,” said Raphael Salve, co-founder of Lobby 1701, which represents evacuees from the north.

Over 60,000 residents from more than 40 communities located within 6.2 miles of the Lebanese border have been internally displaced since the Hezbollah attacks started. The terror group’s cross-border raids have killed 20 Israelis and led to extensive damage to property.

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