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LEBANON: Hezbollah draws former Israeli collaborators back home

June 2, 2009 | 12:49 am

Lebanon-border

With Lebanon still reeling from the discovery of multiple Israeli spy networks, local media is now reporting that Hezbollah and its allies are repatriating former Israeli collaborators who fled over the border to avoid prosecution in Lebanon.

It's a surprising move for Hezbollah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, recently called for Israeli spies to be executed.

The pro-Western news website Now Lebanon reported Friday that the Hezbollah-led opposition has repatriated 47 former members of the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA), an Israeli proxy militia that ran a number of Israeli prisons during the Jewish state's 20-year occupation of southern Lebanon. Over 7,000 SLA members and their families sought refuge in Israel after the withdrawal in 2000.

The movement to bring them back is a result of the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding between Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun and Hezbollah. The MOU calls for the repatriation of any Lebanese in Israel who wish to return, except for a few individuals who are implicated in serious crimes.

Since then, the two parties have been working quietly to contact and screen Lebanese in Israel who wish to return, although anyone who comes back is thoroughly interrogated and kept under strict surveillance to make sure he or she isn't a spy, FPM official Ziad Abs told Now Lebanon.

“It’s better to bring them back now because every year we lose, their children are getting older, [and forgetting how to speak] Arabic," Abs said.

"They’re studying [Hebrew], graduating from Israeli schools, from Israeli universities. They’re falling in love with Israeli girls and marrying them. Really it will get more and more complicated.”

--Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Soldiers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon standing guard at a gate leading to Ghajar in the southern Lebanese village of Abbassiyeh near the border with Israel. Credit: ALI DIA/AFP/Getty Images

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