Local Israelis say history repeating itself in current conflict

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August 2, 2006

For the past few weeks, hundreds of rockets have crossed the Israeli - Lebanese border.

News 12's Stephanie Baker talked to a former Israeli Defense Force soldier who says history has a way of repeating itself.

Almost 30 years ago, Larry Waxman fought Palestinian militants in southern Lebanon...the same location as today's battle with Hezbollah.

The combatants have changed, but the motives behind the fighting remain the same.

Waxman fought Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization in the same area of southern Lebanon back in the 70s. The PLO defeat in the early nineties left an opening for Hezbollah to move in.

Waxman's son Steven just got back from a youth retreat in Israel a few days ago. He had a close call near the Lebanese border.

"Hezbollah started shooting missiles over. It was really right after we left," he says.

Beyond that, Steven says most of the country is business as usual.

"If you haven't been watching the news, then you would have no idea anything was going on up north," he says.

But the people living near Lebanon have to be prepared. Hundreds of missiles crossed the border in recent weeks.

"All of the sudden an alarm goes off and everyone runs to the tent," he says. "Put the flaps down, and sit with your hands covering your head."

Larry Waxman says those precautions saved a soldier on guard duty years ago in this same area.

"That part of the day he decided he would run to a ditch at the end of the street...and his guard shack got blown up," Larry says. "It's what you learn to live with."

Steven says learning to live with it is exactly what they're doing in today's battle.

"Life goes on; nothing's really changed."

Many things haven't changed over the decades.

"Historically the cause of war is land and religion," Larry says. "And here the two main factors are land and religion."

Here's how the conflict breaks down.

In 1970, the militant PLO moved from Jordan to Lebanon.

In 1975, civil war broke out in Lebanon. Violence continued until the US-sponsored ceasefire in 1981.

The violence started up a year later, causing the PLO to leave Lebanon. That was when Hezbollah moved in.

There has been on and off violence for two decades, which brings us to the current attacks.

The United Nations is still working on a peace agreement.