Resident: 'We'll go back there, where else?'

Northern kibbutz says 86 of its 155 homes damaged since start of Hezbollah attacks

Manara’s community manager says it’s frequently in terror group’s sights; business chief says many residents have nowhere to return, laments rehabilitation funding challenges

File: A house damaged in a strike by Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group in Kibbutz Manara, northern Israel near the Lebanon border, on November 27, 2023. (jalaa marey / AFP)
File: A house damaged in a strike by Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group in Kibbutz Manara, northern Israel near the Lebanon border, on November 27, 2023. (jalaa marey / AFP)

The northern kibbutz community of Manara has seen 86 of its 155 houses damaged by rocket and missile fire by terror groups in Lebanon since Hezbollah-led attacks began in October, kibbutz leaders said Sunday.

Yochai Wolfin, the kibbutz community manager, told Kan news of “significant” damage to Manara, located near the border with Lebanon, since the frontier heated up with the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, explaining that it had become a regular target for attacks.

“Eighty-six houses were damaged here in Manara, some completely destroyed and some just with shattered windows,” Wolfin said, noting that the kibbutz has been largely evacuated of civilians. Its normal population is some 300 people.

“The kibbutz has been hit a number of times and the damage is serious,” Wolfin said. “We want to return home and we are waiting for deterrence to be restored to the northern border.”

Since October 7, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the northern border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

Israel has retaliated, hitting Hezbollah sites and security threats near the border.

File: A soldier walks near a car destroyed in a strike by Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group in Kibbutz Manara, northern Israel, near the Lebanon border, on November 27, 2023. (jalaa marey / AFP)

Israel has also said it will no longer tolerate the presence of Hezbollah along the northern frontier after Hamas’s massacre, in which thousands of terrorists burst into Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping over 240, mostly civilians.

Jerusalem has increasingly warned that if the international community does not push Hezbollah forces away from its border through diplomatic means, it will take action.

Orly Yitzhak, the kibbutz’s financial director, told Non-Stop Radio on Sunday that 86 of 155 homes have been hit and that even when the war ends, many residents have “nowhere to go back to.”

Yitzhak lamented the difficulties of getting funding to repair the damage, noting the government’s recently established Tekuma Authority is intended to assist in rehabilitating communities along the southern Gaza border communities ravaged on October 7, not communities in the north.

Yitzhak has discussed funding to rehabilitate the kibbutz with National Missions Minister Orit Strock, who said such a process would take months.

“She definitely understands the distress. Some of the issues are on the minister’s table. She said there is money, but she is not writing checks at the moment because there are bureaucratic problems,” Yitzhak said.

Roni Yefet, another resident, told Channel 12 Saturday that she and her family had moved three times since evacuating, adding that it is hard to find accommodation and that when landlords realize they are evacuees, many refuse them, fearing they will leave in the middle of a contract.

“We are not asking for handouts; we can pay. We need an apartment with a bomb shelter,” she said. “We are often looked at as pitiable. We are not pitiable,” she continued. “Help us live in a safe place and don’t turn your back on us.”

Yefet insisted the family would return to Manara when able. “We chose to live there and we’ll go back to living there. Where else?” she said.

Since hostilities began in October, four civilians and eight soldiers have been killed on the Israeli side.

Over 140 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also more than a dozen civilians, three of them journalists, according to an AFP tally.

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