Amid economic crisis, Israel opens border to let Lebanese villagers pick olives
Israel announced Monday that it was opening its border to agricultural workers from neighboring Lebanon, with which it is technically at war, to pick olives.
“In light of the economic situation in Lebanon, and as a sign of goodwill towards the Lebanese people, the IDF opened the border to agricultural workers from Al Jabal, Itaron and Balida,” said a statement from the Israel Defense Forces.
“The Israeli army has allowed workers to cross the Blue Line, to a certain extent, allowing them to harvest olive trees on Israeli territory,” the statement added, referring to the line drawn by the UN in 2000.
An army spokesperson told AFP that several groups had been allowed to cross since October 10.
The statement said that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) overseeing a buffer zone between the two states had “signaled the gesture” to the Lebanese side.
Tensions have escalated again between the two countries since August, when Israel carried out its first airstrikes on Lebanese territory in seven years and Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a direct rocket attack. on Israeli soil for the first time since 2019.
In 2006, the last large-scale confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah left some 1,200 Lebanese dead as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
This month-long engagement ended with a UN-backed ceasefire.
The neighbors began historic talks brokered by the UN on the definition of their maritime border last year, although discussions are currently at an impasse.
Lebanon has been plunged for two years into an economic, political and social crisis and its residents are subject to draconian banking restrictions preventing easy access to money.
Meanwhile, the local currency has fallen about 90% against the dollar on the black market. About 80 percent of the population struggles to escape poverty amid soaring inflation and scarcity of fuel, medicine and electricity.