For the first time since the Second Lebanon War, Israeli flags are again flying over Lebanon, but this time not because of an IDF takeover of the region, but as part of a film set, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Sunday.
Dozens of military vehicles, armored personnel carriers, soldiers in Israeli uniforms, guard posts and checkpoints over which were hung Israeli flags were hurriedly set up over the weekend, Ma’ariv said. Once completed, the film is scheduled to be aired on Lebanese television, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the weekend’s shooting schedule attracted curious onlookers from both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border, many of whom were simply amazed and slightly dazed by the developing sight before their eyes, Ma’ariv reported.
What on earth would the IDF be doing hundreds of meters into Lebanese territory? some wondered.
A resident of Israel’s northern town of Metula, Einat Lev Ari, had this to say about the surreal experience: “I was out on a morning walk with my sister and we could not believe what we were seeing. I thought I must be imagining things. Had the border been moved a few hundred meters into Lebanon?”
Einat’s fears were allayed a few hours later when she, “heard gunshots and explosives… and realized that it was all part of a movie that was being shot in front of our houses.”
Ramsey, a local who works right on the Israel-Lebanon border was similarly thunderstruck, observing that, “It seemed like a dream… Since 2000 Israeli flags have not been seen on the other side [of the border]. All of a sudden, the IDF has reappeared in full force, with guards, security towers, patrols and movements of armored personnel carriers.”
Meanwhile, the real IDF is keeping close tabs on the filming, having stationed a group of soldiers and Hummers across from the set, Ma’ariv reports.
At some point, Metula Mayor Herzl Boker popped by the border fence to get a firsthand look at the movie magic being created near his fair city, Ma’ariv reported. Boker was pleased that the location was chosen as the site for shooting the film, saying that, “We do not know who is behind this picture and it is unclear what the film is about… but as long as they are filming here, all is well. The Lebanese border is developing into [a regional] Hollywood and now Metula can also be Hollywood […].”
Despite the generally positive reception by local residents, a few locals have expressed fear that the entire enterprise, so close to the border fence, may be little more than an elaborate ruse.
“Go figure if this isn’t anything more than a Hezbollah cover for some other activities that they may be hatching… It’s a cause for concern and we hope that the story here is as innocent as it appears to be at this moment,” a local resident told Ma’ariv.
Read other articles by The Algemeiner’s Jerusalem Correspondent Gidon Ben-Zvi here.