GHAJAR, Lebanon - The single pay phone here doesn't work, and nobody can come to fix it. When one man's refrigerator broke, he had to haul it out of the village on a tractor and get it repaired on the side of a road. The mailman won't deliver door to door.
People who live here are allowed out, but hardly anyone is allowed in.
This is life in this tiny, isolated hamlet that straddles the hostile, fortified border between Israel to the south and Lebanon to the north. The United Nations, using an 80-year-old map, split the community after Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in May 2000.
Ghajar's residents are Alawite Muslims, most of whom consider themselves Syrian. They are citizens of Israel, where they vote, work and are schooled. Yet two-thirds of the 1,800 inhabitants live in Lebanon, on the northern side of an internationally accepted border.
Hussein Khatib, secretary of the village council, lives on the Israeli side, works on the Lebanese side and has to cross the street back into Israel to eat lunch. There are no border markings or barriers.
What they do have is the Israeli army to the south and Hezbollah - the Syrian-backed extremist group known as the Party of God that controls southern Lebanon - to the north. The two sides routinely trade fire across the border.
Israel's 21-month battle with the Palestinians dominates the news, but skirmishes along the northern border have army commanders worried that Lebanese militias are trying to open up a second front to thin out Israeli forces busy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
It is a demonstration of the constant volatility in the region, and the far-flung nature of border problems.
There is nothing to prevent anyone from leaving Ghajar, but Hezbollah would quickly stop anyone who tried to walk or drive north to Beirut.
The situation is so precarious and the threat of kidnapping for Jews so real that Israel has declared Ghajar a "closed military zone" and bars almost anyone not from Ghajar from entering. That blocks food as well as repairmen, doctors, housing inspectors and police from setting foot inside.
"There is no sovereignty here," complained Khatib, 47, who considers himself Syrian and runs the day-to-day affairs of the farming community. Nearly half of Ghajar's population is unemployed. "No one is responsible for this village."
Khatib, an affable man with a slight gray mustache, is fluent in Hebrew and patient about explaining his village's predicament, which he demonstrates by holding a ruler to the line on an overhead photo of the village.
How Ghajar came to be a no man's land dividing two enemies who routinely spar is known. It's just the why and what to do about it that seem so perplexing.
Khatib shrugs his shoulders, smiles and pleads for help in getting out of the mess.
"We have a very bad feeling," he said, letting out a long sigh. "We don't know what the future holds. This is a nice area with nice people who want to live with dignity, but we have soldiers on one side and the Hezbollah on the other. The residents suffer."
Israeli officials want to extend a security fence that runs the length of the Lebanon border through or around Ghajar. But residents did not want their village split, and Lebanon will not allow a barrier on its land.
So the Israeli army built the fence around the southern edge of the town, exposing the entire area to Lebanon. Ghajar residents have to pass through an Israeli army checkpoint to leave. They don't wander farther into Lebanon, and their Muslim religion protects them from being targeted by Hezbollah.
A "gentleman's agreement" between Israel and Lebanon means that Israeli soldiers and police do not cross the line into Lebanon, and Hezbollah stays out of the town on its side of the unguarded border.
"The villagers do not have much of a choice," said Timur Goksel, spokesman for the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon. "It's sad, but it's also reality. They have an enemy on one side and the Israeli army on the other. So far, nobody has touched each other."
Ghajar residents say that until the Arab-Israeli War in 1967, they were on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. There are several small black stone homes built with Syrian building permits. Residents have no attachment to Lebanon, and no real desire to be a part of Israel.
Israel captured the Syrian Golan Heights during the war and holds onto it today. Ghajar got swept into Israel in the battles. Then, Israel considered the entire village its own. That lasted through Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and until it withdrew from the southern part in 2000.
That was when the United Nations was called in to draw a new border. Khatib said that instead of using a tributary of the Jordan River as a natural dividing line, they relied on a 1923 map. Putting Ghajar in Syria then would have been impossible, since the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights separated the two.