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By F. Brinley Bruton and Paul Goldman
METULA, Israel ̵
"Retreating" orders the soldier as the buzzing of a generator fills the air.
"But that's my country," Haim Hod shoots back. Hod, 71, nicknamed Hamke, is standing next to his wife Miriam in an area that is officially a restricted military area.
Behind the couple rows of pithy apple trees march in the direction of Metula, the northernmost city in Israel. The soldier guards a long white tent perching in front of a huge concrete wall. Above the imposing barrier rises a hill full of houses – the Lebanese city of Kafr Kela.
A few weeks ago, Hod's trees grew on the now depressed Earth. On December 4, the couple and the nation were told that an "attack tunnel" had been discovered on Israeli territory, leading to Lebanon.
The first of the six tunnels finally found ran among farmland near Metula, which sits between apple, plum and peach plantations ringing with the chirps of the parakeet and the caw-caw of the crows.
The authorities later warned that hundreds of Hezbollah fighters had streamed through the tunnels, abducting and killing civilians and soldiers.
Some in Metula put forward the theory that the whole city was conquered by Hezbollah – a pro-Palestinian militant group and political party that dominates Lebanon – and is sponsored by zealous anti-Iranian Iran.
Hezbollah militants return home after the war in Syria, where they supported President Bashar al-Assad while battling rebels who had tried to disappoint him. Fears that the battle-hardened militants will return to an estimated arsenal of 100,000 missiles and missiles will be loud and they will focus more on their original enemy: Israel.
Metula, at the head of a north-facing stretch of land Lebanon is particularly vulnerable to frequent confrontation with enemies at the border. The city was shelled during the Hezbollah-Israel war of 2006, which devastated parts of Lebanon.
In the decade before the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, rockets from Palestinian fighters frequently sent Metula residents to shelters.
But not Hod missiles would not drive this third generation farmer out of his home.
His stoicism was more than annoying when warning sirens sounded and his wife took the couple's four children to safety.
Family, without dad, in a shelter the children cried because of Hod's absence.
"He's never scared," says Miriam Hod over dinner in a hotel that leads the couple in town. "That's the problem."
Haim Hod smiles, his white teeth lifting against the skin, working in the fields since the age of nine.
"In all the wars I never went to an animal shelter," said Hod. "I always sleep in my bed."
Hod may be brave, but he cried last month when he saw what the army had done to his orchard. The military rolled over its precious apple trees, snapping trunks and branches as they raced toward the newly discovered Hezbollah tunnel. In the clearing, 350 trucks flooded the tunnel with cement.
"The trees are like my children," he says. "But safety comes before children."
The government will reimburse the Hods for the losses incurred during the operation.
The long tenure of the Hods in Metula has seen many such compromises, the thick stone walls of the 120s. a centuries-old family estate plagued by war and emergency waves.
Haim's grandparents Hod were the first to be married in the city after Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who promoted the settlement of Jews in present-day Israel, bought the land from a local Arab family.
Times were often tough and it took the family four decades to repay the French banking sprout. Together with other villagers, they regularly had to flee violent outbreaks.
After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, poverty drove many of Haim Hod's 10 uncles and aunts away. Some went abroad, others stayed and helped build Israel, says Miriam.
Israel now warns against beating Hezbollah over the tunnels.
"This is not just an act of aggression. This is a military action, "said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after the discovery of the tunnel. "The people of Lebanon must understand that Hezbollah puts them at risk, and we expect Lebanon to take action."
Such statements are part of a broader effort to keep Hezbollah and Iran out of the northern border of Israel. Israel has only recently admitted that it has carried out thousands of attacks on Iranian troops in Syria and has abandoned a policy of secrecy that has masked its military advance.
On January 20, Israel attacked targets near Damascus and killed 21, including at least 12 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to a Syrian war monitoring group.
In response, Iran launched a rocket towards the crowded ski resort of Mount Hermon. It was intercepted by the Israeli missile defense system. On Monday, the Iranian Air Force chief announced: "We are ready for the decisive war that will bring about the disappearance of Israel from Earth."
While Israel's strikes in Syria are not uncommon, it is so unusual to draw attention to them, said Daniel Byman, a professor in Georgetown and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Hezbollah regularly tries to attack its enemy, Byman said.
"Sometimes they are rockets, sometimes tunnels, and sometimes they are positions in Syria," he says.
When the leader of Hezbollah built the tunnels on Saturday late Saturday, he said the group would need more than a few tunnels if it ever decided to invade Israel. [19659007HasanNasrallahadnearedtheAl-Mayadeenintelevisiontransmittermakingsomelate-nightdetections"andalatedetectionof"a13-yearintelligenceerror"
Despite Hezbollah's saber-rattling, most experts agree that [1,945,903] It does not want a war with Israel, which is militarily much stronger. But there is always the chance that a miscalculation becomes one.
Lt. Colonel Avshalom Dadon has no intention of making such mistakes. In his capacity as technical officer in the 91st Division, he helped monitor the discovery of the six tunnels found in Israel.
"We were not surprised that we found tunnels," said Dadon, 33, "but we were amazed at their size and infrastructure and the effort Hezbollah obviously put into them."
Everyone is different even though they were all big enough to stand upright and all were wired for electricity.
Just a few hundred yards behind Him, a run on a blue-painted pole with "UN" marks the border with Lebanon.
This is the blue line, the border between countries, clearly visible in the vicinity, a collection of Lebanese soldiers.You photographed as members of the elite unit of Yahalom with black Balaclavas, leave a tiny camera fall through a white tube in the tunnel.
"I understand who our neighbors are and that we are surrounded by enemies," Dadon says in a place where a tunnel near the city of Zar was located. "I fully understand that the people we face are not stupid, they are learning from the IDF every day," he said, referring to the Israeli forces.
Dadon hits him several times with a fist describing the process of carving in the hard dolomite rocks. Hezbollah has been working for years to dig through the earth here in northern Israel, often in the tunnels where it was built, he says.
Dadon compares the search for the tunnels with finding a needle in a haystack and says his troops drilled more than 600 holes in the ground that were up to six meters deep, until the six were determined.
He breaks a soft smile as he describes the excitement he had discovered after years of searching through the tunnels.
"My wife would kill me To say that, but finding the tunnels – it's a bit of a birth," says the father of two.
In Metula, a two-minute walk from the hotel in Hods, students from the city's elementary school regularly discuss military-grade supervised emergency exercises by Principal Marsel Leev.
Noga, 11, explains that she is helping to feel safe. And as she gets "older and older," she feels "less and less stressful" because of the threat they all face.
The girl repeats this at least three times breathless, with brown eyes becoming thicker behind dark-rimmed glasses.
Later, Leev goes up a flight of stairs and opens curtains in a classroom to expose a wide panoramic view. The window framed orchards, houses and a street that leads out of Metula. Just behind it meanders the border wall, then fields, houses and the mountains of Lebanon.
The building, the teachers and students are a symbol of resilience, she says.
"The fact that you have one here A school that is 150 meters from the border is a statement on the other side," says Leev. "We will stay here for generations."