Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Monday at the Knesset with 14-year-old Tal Hajaj, the daughter of a former officer in the South Lebanon Army. Since Thursday, Hajaj has been on a hunger strike outside the Knesset, due to the difficulties her family has experienced since her father came to the State of Israel.
The SLA was an anti-Islamist, anti-PLO army of Lebanese Arabs, primarily, though not exclusively Christians, heavily supported by Israel. The IDF and the SLA collaborated against the Iran-backed Hizbullah and PLO terrorist forces before and during the years that Israel operated a Security Zone in southern Lebanon, between 1982 and 2000. When the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 without prior warning, the SLA collapsed and many of its fighters fled into Israel.
Approximately 6,000 SLA refugees, including soldiers and their families, initially arrived in Israel. Of those, about 1,500 subsequently dispersed to various countries around the world. As of 2009, when Likud Minister Yossi Peled was given the responsibility for the welfare of SLA families, there were about 2,400 expatriates from southern Lebanon remaining in Israel.
Minister Peled also attended Monday’s meeting between Tal and the Prime Minister, during which Netanyahu asked the young girl to stop her hunger strike and return to her home in Tiberias.
“I want you to start eating, I want you to return to your home, leave the problem to us so we can try to help you,” Netanyahu said. “You’ve achieved something important – you’ve explained it all to me, I didn’t know all the details.”
Netanyahu asked Minister Peled to consider how the family's situation might be improved and told Tal that he is very loyal to the cause and would do anything in his power to help her.
Tal promised Netanyahu that she would end her hunger strike and go back home, and thanked the Prime Minister for his time.