Updates from Saida, Lebanon
"There is no option but to resist and stay strong"
By ZEINA M.B. ZAATARI, PhD
Editor's note: Saida is the Arabic name for Sidon, the third-largest city in Lebanon (pop 200,000) on the Mediterranean coast, about 25 miles north of Tyre and 30 miles south of the capital Beirut. Dr. Zeina Zaatari writes on the National Council of Arab Americans blog (http://arab-americans.blogspot.com/). She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California at Davis where she was also a lecturer and at the Women's Studies Program at California State University, San Francisco.
Update 8 from Lebanon
(21 July 2006) - THE SITUATION is getting worse in Lebanon. Everyone is worried that once all the foreign nationals are evacuated, the Israelis will bomb indiscriminately and will be even more vicious than it has been so far.
For those fleeing the bombing of their homes and villages, there are few and fewer safe routes; all routes are being bombed and rebombed. Israel on the one hand sends these statements from the air asking residents of the South to leave their villages and even calls homes and cell phones with a taped recorded message in Arabic stating that the southerners need to leave up to north of the Litany river. Yet on the other hand it targets all the roads and bridges, and civilian cars and buses to ensure that people do not leave and are eradicated within and to ensure that no aid (medical or food) reaches those under siege from all directions.
Thursday early morning it bombed the roads and bridges from Saida to Beirut. It also bombed all roads leading to Ghazziyeh (a small town near Saida). In the deep south it has been bombing all roads between the various smaller towns and villages isolating totally many villagers with no resources or food.
Today, Israel air-raided Baalbeck (one of the largest cities in the Biqaa) with 21 air raids and tons of explosives targeting quarters and homes within the city, with what appears to be so far five dead and many wounded.
Continuous bombing in the South from the air on the Khiam prison, Marjeoun, and other towns has also claimed the lives of many. As of this morning more than 350 deaths and over a 1000 deaths.
A large demonstration took place yesterday in Beirut in front of the ESCWA to demand the end of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. Whereas it is clear that the people in various parts of the Arab world and in Spain, Paris, and elsewhere has organized demonstrations to protest the Israeli aggression against Lebanon; it is equally clear that there is an international agreement to allow Israel and the US to end resistance and end Hizbullah.
Israel is also engaged in a PR and psychological warfare aided of course by the neo-conservative machines. Israel bombed a building under construction to become a mosque in Beirut which they claimed was a headquarters of Hizbullah and that they killed many of its leaders. They declared that they did many raids and used 20 tons of bombs on that site. This was all ridiculous as all reporters visited the site and clearly stated that there was no headquarters and no casualties.
To the contrary, Israel is the one afraid to indicate to the world and to its people the degree of damage that is happening among its ranks. Two Apache helicopters have crashed into each other near the border and another was targeted by Hizbullah fighters.
All people are strong with the resistance and many local coalitions have been formed to ensure the sumoud (steadfastness) of our people. As of yesterday over 23000 people have entered Saida in search of shelter.
Not sure if it came through in the news also that over 20 agents were captured in Lebanon. It seems that they were placing marks on target places using a material that can be seen from the air to aid planes in destroying Lebanon and the resistance.
I wish you could find the translation of the interview (for those who cannot read Arabic) that Ghassan Bin Jeddou from Al-Jazeera TV did with Al-Sayid Hasan Nasrallah as it extremely important in my opinion to hear his words, his clarity and his strength. His words give hope and steadfastness to our people all over.*
*Al-Jazeera interviews Hezbollah chief - text Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 20 Ju http://www.shunpiking.org/ol0306/0306-RT-HEZ-AlJaz-interview.htm
By Zeina M.B. Zaatari, PhD
(19 July 2996) - TODAY near Saida, two raids destroyed a business center in Gazziyeh and another building. A truck in Achrafieh Beirut (in the heart of Beirut) was also bombed.
As we drove around the city collecting clothes and other items to deliver to the displaced and refugees, we could see a stream of cars from the South coming to Saida and going beyond. Thousands of people passed by in cars, buses, cabs. Cars filled with people to the maximum, without any luggage or other items which means they fled. Destroyed and mangled cars that still could work and that was brining people who were fleeing. Everyone put white items, a tissue paper, a t-shirt, a sheet of paper on the top or side of the car assuming that if the Israelis see them, they will not bomb or shoot. Several cabs went to Marjeoun and picked up loads of people all holding the German flags as they are German citizens. They were trying to evacuate to Beirut to get to the embassy. (It is a good thing the country had so many flags during the World Cup; not sure other flags are going to help them in any significant way).
Today, the Russians evacuated about 20 buses through Syria. Most other countries have been evacuating all of their citizens. Many through the water via major ships and many others through the Syrian borders at various check points. But what are the Lebanese going to do and those with only Lebanese citizenship? Where would they run to?
Today, the bombings in the south continued. A major massacre took place in Sriefa (a small town) near Tyre where more than 25 people were killed. There are wounded and dead under the rubbles in most villages and towns. They have been bombing Nabbatiyeh non-stop among other areas. It seems that Israel tried to come into Lebanon and clashes continued with the resistance until they retreated. Just an indication of the futility of the Israeli war machine in terms of targeting or really causing damage among the ranks of the resistance is that in a week of bombing all those killed have been civilians. Four fighters of the resistance have died. No weapons' base, no headquarters, no political or military leader of Hizbullah has been reached or touched. This is an indication of the strength of the resistance and of the fact that Israel at this point may be at a standstill in terms of its advances. It has bombed most obvious sites that had offices or homes of Hizbullah, airports, roads, bridges, ports, etc ... so what is next? Sadly enough, what has been next is our people, as they destroy homes and villages in the south and in the Biqaa on a daily basis. Today they re-bombed the airport; it is really not clear why, as the airport is out of business and there is no work and no fuel, etc..
Yet all this does not seem to be enough for the US that still sees no need for a cease fire as Hizbullah is still resisting strong.
If you would like to help with relief efforts, you can use the following reliable entities that I know well.
1) In Saida, the Municipality is coordinating all efforts with the various civil society organizations and all resources we are asking to go through the municipality.
Intercontinental Bank of Lebanon, SAL Saida Branch Account no: 0100021820073492016 Account holder: Dr. Abdul Rahman Nazih Al-Bizri (Head of the Municipality) Swift Code: -INLELBBE
(If interested in sending money via other means directly to individuals that are involved in this effort, please let me know).
2) Collective for Research and Training on Development - Action (www.crtd.org) (Are working in Beirut but also coordinating with several groups in the Saida and other areas). 1. Bank Address: Audi Bank SAL, Sodeco Branch, Sodeco, Beirut - Lebanon 2. Bank telephone number: + 961 1 612792 3. Bank fax number: + 961 1 612793 4. Post address: P.O.BOX: 11-2560, RIAD EL SOLH, 1107-2808, BEIRUT 5. Account Name: CRTD-A 6. Account number: 832593-461-002-044-01 (US$) 7. ABA/SWIFT number: AUDBLBBX 8. Name and address of corresponding US bank (in case needed): Audi Bank -USA USA Building 19 East 54th Street, New York, N.Y 10022 USA Phone: +1 212 833 1000 Swift Code: AUS AUS 33
3) Helem, a progressive NGO which normally does sexual minority human rights work and women's rights work (see helem.net), has shifted its center to a refugee intake point, providing blankets, food, etc for the refugees from the dahyieh and south Lebanon. Information is below on how to donate both online through paypal or wire transfer. You can contribute online using PAYAPL at http://www.helem.net/donations.znttp://www.helem.net/donations.zn or you can send payments to the accounts below Credit Libanais S.A.L Beyrouth Agence Sassine SWIFT CODE: CLIBLBBX Client Name: Al Azzi Georges Account number: 043.001.208.0006817.35.6 SGBL Hamra Branch SWIFT CODE: SGLILBBX Client Name: CHIT Bassem Account: 007.004.367.092.875.014
hatta al-awda Until Return Zeina M.B. Zaatari, PhD
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - 10:30 PM - Day 7
This evening I want to talk about the displaced and refugees in Saida. We went to visit two of the public schools in Saida that are housing many families that have fled further in the South.
But first some numbers. As of noon today, Saida took in 510 families amounting to close to 3000 people in its various public schools. Eight schools were open with full occupancy and this afternoon four more centers opened including the Lebanese university (all are public institutions; however run and operated now by volunteers). 200 additional families are residing with relatives and friends in actual homes; making the total close to 4000 people. Every minute brings another family or a train of cars with families.
The municipality of Saida (just a reminder that this municipality is a coalition of forces from Saida that created a list against the Hariri list and won elections not too long ago) had created a network of committees in preparation for this exodus (having had a similar experience on some level in 1996 with Israel's Grapes of Wrath).
The municipality thus was coordinating with civil society organizations including charitable associations, political parties and NGOs. The municipality and the receiving centers need to provide foam mattresses for people to sleep on, sheets and towels, cleaning supplies, all food items, medicine and medical care, entertainment, hygienic necessities; all this in coordination with the various associations, the government institutions, and the people of the city. Several local charities have been cooking daily food to feed all these families. So far, they took it upon themselves to provide 400 families with hot food. The rest is being taken care of by individual homes and people intent on providing support. I was told today of a group of small children that reside near a school that decided to go collect money from the kids in the neighborhood and buy some manakeesh for dinner for the families (manakeesh is like a small pizza made with cheese or thyme paste).
However, there is a lot more that is needed.
In short, the situation is dire and almost everything is in short supply. The families are still relatively doing well; but soon they will have more needs and more complaints. This is just to stress how detrimental the targeting of all the emergency supply trucks all day today is and will be in the near future for a country under siege.
The two schools we visited were the responsibility of three entities, one being the Martyr Rachid Broam Clinic, which provides on a daily basis low-cost clinical visits and medical social services among others. It is a leftist organization (Part of the Peoples' Party). He (meaning Rachid Broam) died with his wife and his child during the Israeli invasion of 1982.
The first school we visited (ironically a school I spent a lot of time in growing up as my mother taught there for over 25 years) had 150 people with all ages including a 20-day-old baby and mother. There was enough water and food it seemed for now. The school was equipped with some wash rooms that the families can use to wash their clothes and shower. It is a strange feeling to walk by a school and see all the clothes hanging from the windows (we are talking about a country that does not have Laundromats but washing is only done inside the homes). The kids were playing in the school playground kicking a ball or running. The displaced wanted to hold a demonstration to speak about their support for the resistance and denounce Israel and the governments that have not done anything about the continued onslaught. These are people who have lost their homes and perhaps their loved ones. They do not know if they would be able to go back to their homes or their land again. Even though some good doers send some food supplies; yet the families do not have gas stoves to be able to cook anything or make use of it. There is also a shelter under the school that thankfully can be used in case Israel decides to air-raid Saida.
The second school we visited was a bit bigger with 300 residents and many people outside waiting in line trying to negotiate their stay in this school (many follow their relatives, however the schools are to full capacity and so they may have to be placed in another setting which naturally does not make them happy). This was a busier space which often leads to squabbles and problems. We are talking about schools, meaning that several families are placed in a classroom. There are no heaters nor air-conditions in the schools and many may or may not have glass on the windows (our public schools have been in a shitty situation since the war as the Hariri government and others that followed did not see education as a priority). So far only 100 mattresses are available which means that many are sleeping on the floor. They lacked sheets and towels, cleaning supplies, clothes, medicines many of them. The other problem in this school is that the bathrooms are in the playground only with no showers and the men's and women's bathrooms are next to each other. This is a problem for our people from the villages. They also have many children and babies including a newborn who is coming 'home' from the hospital with his mother (after having done a C-section). The volunteers decided to put her in a separate room so as not to risk any contamination or microbes for the newborn. Yet they are worried. Everyone is worried about diseases and other problems of having so many people together in the same space with minimum supplies and clothes, etc... Doctors from the Clinics as well as other volunteer doctors had been visiting the schools; however medication is in shortage. A truck of medication was supposed to arrive to the city today to provide medication to all the hospitals as well as these centers. But it did not arrive. We are hoping for tomorrow. We are creating a campaign in the city tomorrow to collect sheets, towels, and mattresses as well as purchase medications to support.
The residents here sit all day talking to each other, talking on the phone trying to make sure their loved ones are okay, made it out from wherever they are okay, worrying about their homes, their jobs, their resources. How long will they last like this? They asked for a TV station because the radio that they have is not providing enough information about what is going on. What will happen to them if Saida is bombed? Will they become refugees once again? How will they go and where will they go to?
The story repeats in other schools and centers. This is the lot of those 'fortunate' ones who were able to leave their villages and were not killed while sleeping in their homes or fleeing in their cars.
I will send soon a list of possible sources to which you and others who may be interested in donating funds can do so to help in relief efforts.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 1:00 PM - Day 7
It has been relatively quiet in Saida. We are only hearing warplanes roaming ahead and witnessing the atrocities on TV screens and awaiting . It is extremely frustrating to see all this death and destruction around and not be able to help. Even for those who are working in the red cross and others that are trained in emergency aid are not able to perform their role as the Israelis continue to target rescue operations as well as all the roads and bridges. The southern suburb of Beirut today was not targeted and this is in part that there is nothing left, most buildings in the center had been leveled to the floor already.
During the night and this morning, they have been bombing towns and cities in the south. Nabatiyyeh, Marjeoun, Khiam, and Bint Jbeil have all been targeted heavily. Aitaroun, a small village in the south was bombed last night destroying over five homes with their inhabitants.
Early this morning, they bombed a whole building of four stories high in Choueifat (near Beirut) and destroyed it completely.
Then they bombed the Lebanese army's base in Al-Jamhour, east of Beirut killing several and wounding many. They then bombed Jbeil (Byblos), a historic city north of Beirut. Then they bombed a church in Rashaya al-Wadi .
The Israeli war machine, the disgusting and vicious war machine, is now targeting since early this morning all trucks that are coming from the northern and eastern borders (from Jordan via Syria) of emergency aid that includes sugar, wheat, cement, and other such material like milk, infant formula, etc... They killed three Jordanian truck drivers that were bringing in aids from the United Arab Emirates. They are claiming these could be trucks that are moving artillery and rockets. This is a farce as all these trucks are open containers where you can clearly see what is inside of them. The aim is clear to suffocate further all Lebanese, those under heavy attack and those trying to provide for the refugees and IDPs in schools and parks where supplies are quickly dwindling. By yesterday's estimates, there are over 25,000 people who refugees at the moment. There are over 12,000 displaced in the schools and parks of Beirut. In Saida, the estimate is over 4000 families have fled from the South to find refuge in the city's public schools and among relatives.
Updates of more information from yesterday's events: The bombing yesterday of Beirut's port killed two civilians. Images of the body indicate that the bombs are using chemical and phosphorous weapons. The bodies are melting including the bones (There are images on As-Safir newspaper www.assafir.com, but I do not recommend viewing for those faint of the heart).
The factory that was hit east of Saida in Kfar Jara, were actually two factories, one for cardboard and the other for tissue paper called Fine that is owned by a Jordanian merchant. The two were destroyed completely, with an estimate of 10 million dollars of losses according to the owner. Near Nabatiyye, in a town called Musaileh, Israel targeted Al-Kayan Center which includes a medical center, clinics, and an emergency center (ambulance and fire trucks center basically) and destroyed it. The air-raid destroyed ten ambulance trucks.
Thank you all for all your emails of support and care. I am sorry if I do not respond to them one by one, but I do appreciate the support and they do really help. Most of the time I do not have the energy to speak, transfixed with emotions of fear, worry, and anger.
hatta al-awda Until Return Zeina
Monday, July 17, 2006 8:30 PM
As I write this message, the Southern Suburb of Beirut is still under attack with air raids from Israeli warplanes and villages in the south on the border are all under heavy artillery. Tens of buildings of eight and ten story height are all leveled to the floor. The aim is to empty the area of any inhabitants and supposedly be able to isolate the resistance fighters. In Beirut, they bombed the port once again targeting the wheat containers also killing on individual.
In the Beqaa they bombed a plant of dairy products called Liban Lait, a gas station, and a school. In Riyaq (also in the Biqaa), they targeted a house where internally displaced Peoples (IDP) had found refuge and killed the whole family. In Chtoura (a city in the Biqaa) was also targeted.
Near Beirut, an object was burning and went down from the skies. There were many reports indicating that it could have been a plane or something of the sort that was shot down. In the end, the indication is that this was a balloon for monitoring (they had these all over the southern border to watch what is going on in Lebanon on a regular basis) or else an extra fuel tank.
In and around Tripoli (Al-Abdeh) they bombed an army base killing five. The army by the way has not been responding to any shooting by Israel. It seems that because the Prime Minister did a call for cease fire, we have not been hearing any of the army anti-aircraft machinery.
In the South, they targeted all the towns on the road between Saida and Beirut, by bombing further any roads and bridges. At Rmeileh bridge they bombed and killed over 14 people that were in a small bus trying to evacuate to safer areas. They also rebombed the Jieh power plant and also all day today the plant was on fire, you can see the smoke from miles ahead, we can smell the smoke and breathe the burning. Early in the morning they bombed the Ghazieh bridge and killed two people that were in car trying to leave the city. Ghazieh is a town near Saida. All these are new bridges that were built to connect the towns with the new highway.
Like I said in the previous email, the cardboard and Kleenex factory was destroyed completely. The water tank of Said was also destroyed and two members of the army were killed at that post.
In the border towns, the Israeli continue to commit one massacre after another by killing people in their homes, or asking them to evacuate and then killing them as they try to flee to another town on roads and bridges that are half destroyed. A fire truck today was also destroyed. The border towns are sending via the local television station reporters that are jumping over all sorts of barriers to report to us what is happening, they are sending rescue signals. People are terrified for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. THe bombs come from tanks on the border as well as airplane raids and battleships. It comes from all directions.
Today, we drove around Saida and all public schools in Saida are filled with IDP, people who have left with nothing but the clothes they are wearing and others that have have lost family members and homes. The Israelis today asked people in Nabatiyye (through pamphlets from the sky) to leave Nabatiyye. We could see trucks of the army that are bringing some food and supplies as well as foam mattresses for people, lots of children and families. Others have fled to Beirut and further to Tripoli where also schools are filled with families and children. Yet many more are stuck in villages under daily attack and with no food or medicine. In Saida, food item prices have all gone up extremely high as there is a lot of demand particularly with those displaced coming in. Gas prices are still the same for now; but gas stations are only working for few hours a day.
In Aitaroun, the local school teacher is now acting as the village doctor, performing CPR and providing medicine to the elderly with diabetes and other illnesses.
Some of the folks I know here have been working on producing reliable sources for people to send relief aid. I will send these out as soon as they are available.
Monday, July 17th, 10:30 Am - Day 5
Yesterday was focused on killing civilians in South Lebanon, Baalbek and the southern suburb of Beirut. Israel continuously bombed homes and buildings. One set of bombing killed over 20 people when Israel targeted a twelve story building in Tyre (Sour) and leveled its top four stories. Another Near JibSheet targeted people's homes. Reports of bombs with ugly gas smell were confirmed by the Lebanese army as using phosphorous and other types of bombs outlawed internationally.
The Jieh power plant I told you about yesterday that Israel bombed, set the fuel tank on fire. We could see the smoke from our home. It kept burning from 5 in the morning until late through the night (we could see it up to the moment we went to sleep close to 12 midnight). Our balcony was filled with black dust from the fire and this morning there is a huge black cloud above the city as if it is going to rain, we can smell the smoke.
In the evening, Israel targeted Tripoli and Beirut ports once again. It also raided Beirut's airport five times in ten minutes each with two bombs. It also seems that Israel is fishing for weapons storage areas as well as destroying any time of infrastructure and economy. Last night it bombed through airplanes (my brother and I saw the bombs falling from our balcony) the cardboard plant east of Sidon (Saida) in a town called Kfar Jara, we could see the glow of fire most of the night. They also targeted an army post on a hill above Saida called the Mar Ellias hill (there is a church, few houses, and Saida's water tanks on the hill as well as a small Lebanese army post) via battleships (My aunt who lives by the sea could hear the bomb fly overhead and then the explosion which had us all jumping from our seats).
It is clear now to everyone that Israel has been planning this for a while. The US hoped that the Lebanese will disarm the Lebanese Resistance in Lebanon and worked via various entities including enforcing a sectarian crisis, the withdrawal of Syria, etc... to achieve those results. The crisis that has been ongoing in Lebanon now for a while along with all the assassinations were supposed to lead to the execution of the (UNSCR Resolution) 1559. Now that the National dialogue declared the right of the resistance to exist, considering that we have Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, we have the Shibaa Farms area (many villages and key strategic locations in the Sheikh Mountain) were still occupied by Israel, and we have Israeli intelligence operating in Lebanon; the US and Israel decided to take matters into their own hands.
By all experts' opinions and by what we are witnessing daily, this is not a response to the capturing of the two soldiers but a planned attempt to destroy Lebanon and to destroy Lebanon's resistance. Two years ago, there was a similar operation where two dead soldiers were captured. Non-direct negotiations resulted in an exchange of some prisoners. However, the Knesset voted on keeping some of the Lebanese prisoners. There has been ongoing struggles in the south in the area that is still occupied.
As such, Israel has been planning and was going to use any excuse it saw could be of most use to its usual International PR machine to give a cover for its operations in Lebanon. It is inconceivable to believe that Israel was able to prepare plans and maps of all these targets (bridges, roads, details of homes of Hizbullah leaders, offices of Hizbullah, Al-Manar TV station offices as well as three or four of its radars, Al-Nur Radio station, Radars of other cell phone companies, etc...) in about two or three hours. This has definitely been a plan in the works in case other US processes seem to have failed. Israel also quickly within less than a day declared via Olmert that its concern is for the disarming of the resistance and for the killing of Hizbullah leader Nasrallah and it is not any more (not that it ever was) about the two captured soldiers.
I am sure that the news reporting in the US is talking about poor Israel having the right to defend itself; but the reality on the ground is utterly different. The resistance has been very targeted in its response. From the first day, Nassrallah declared that if Israel wants the soldiers back it will have to negotiate (non-directly) and exchange with our prisoners. He stated clearly that the resistance has no intention of escalating violence and that the focus is on the exchange of prisoners. However, Israel immediately started bombing bridges and killed civilians. Then the resistance responded by bombing military posts during the first day trying to stop Israeli advances into South Lebanon as well as the ability of the tanks to bomb into villages. Israel immediately escalated by bombing civilian populations all over Lebanon and increasing the damage to infrastructures. Its regular PR statement is that Hizbullah places its rockets and offices among and in between homes and houses and as such it has no choice, which is utterly ridiculous. Yesterday Israel threw we call them Manasheer (statements on paper that are thrown from the planes) in Saida asking people to stay away from Hizbullah offices and rocket storage areas. Hizbullah does not have a presence in Saida. But Israel uses the same tactics in Palestine and in Lebanon to kill civilians from planes, apache helicopters, and battleships. They avoid on the ground battles dramatically (which maybe the only time when they would actually be in a fight with trained resistance fighters) and prefer to fire from high in the skies to kill whoever stands in their way.
All international positions have been really sickening and utterly ridiculous. It is inconceivable that the UN could not come out with a statement against this aggression. Basically as long as the US has given Israel the green light to do its work by eliminating the only resistance (next to the Palestinian resistance) against its interests in the region, there will be no condemnation and no end in sight to the war.
Sunday, July 16, 2006 2:50 AM
THINGS are escalating fast. Israel has been bombing non-stop the southern suburb of Beirut. Most people have now become refugees residing in schools, with relatives, and in public parks. The images that we saw on the NBN/City TV network this morning of the damage done in this area were horrendous bringing back similar images to the 1982 invasion with building as tall as six and seven floors being leveled to the ground. They have also targeted most ports (Beirut, Tripoli, Juneih, Tyre, and Amsheet). They also targeted early this morning the power plant and fuel reserve of Jieh which were burned to the ground. They also targeted fire trucks that were trying to put out most of the fires that they started.
In Saida, they targeted the water tanks of the city, but it seems that they were not able to destroy them. In Saida, most stores are already running out of food and water supplies. Yesterday there already started lines and lines at the gas stations as Israel continues to target gas stations and power plants people worry about their ability to find fuel. Electricity is still working every eight hours. However, most of us that have membership in a generator, are worried about fuel running out of these generators. At least with electricity, people follow events and are able to see what is happening. Without electricity, we hear the planes overhead but we are not sure what is going on.
In my email yesterday, I told you about the Al-Marwahiyn town where the residents were turned around from finding shelter with the UN peace keeping mission base (UNFIL). Israel committed a massacre by targeting the buses and cars in which people were trying to flee the city based on their own threats. Over 20 people, many of them children, were all killed. Another such crime took place later during the day in another coastal town near Tyre.
To see images that are horrific, I recommend you check Arabic/Lebanese newspapers. Even if you do not understand the writing, the images do not need explanation. It is an all out war, and as usual the Israeli war machine does not discriminate and aims to kill and destroy. You can check www.assafir.com ; www.annahar.com.lb; www.dailystar.com.lb; http://angryarab.blogspot.com/; http://www.almustaqbal.com/; www.journaladdiyar.com
Unlike the Israeli towns and villages, our buildings and homes are not equipped with bomb shelters and most people have no place to go. The targeting of all the roads cuts everything off. This includes food, medical equipment, the ability of ambulances to rescue victims, and the ability of people to flee to safer areas. My friend who works at the largest hospital in Saida told me of the frustrations in the hospital as the injured are not able to be delivered here in Saida because all the roads are destroyed. Most hospitals in the South are not really that big or that equipped with material to rescue and cure. People relied on the large hospitals in Saida for intensive operations and emergency cases. But so far, they are not able to arrive to the hospital here. As of yesterday, the number of deaths was close to 100 and the injured more. Today we still haven't seen any reporting of the casualties.
Seeing CNN and BBC here it is clear that you are not seeing anything much of the extent of the damage. The international community remains silent. Al-Manar showed demonstrations in various Arab and African countries as well as in Paris, etc... and the poll on Al-Jazeera net indicates that out of 62,000 people who took the poll, 92% believe that Hizbullah's operation is a legitimate resistance operation. Yet, Arab governments including many in the Lebanese government are willing to sacrifice everything and anything towards destroying the resistance. Everyone it seems is conspiring against the resistance. However, the people, all of our peoples everywhere are standing strong with the resistance.
All analysis seems to indicate that this could escalate into an all out regional war with Syria and Iran both involved. This remains to be seen, but they have both issued very strong statements. It is clear that Israel aims to destroy the resistance and these so-called Arab governments are complicit and one can say actively encouraging this process. Is another aim to force a regime change in Syria and to destroy or bomb Iran's nuclear plants? I believe, anything is possible and is on the table.
We are staying put but have prepared ourselves psychologically for the worst.
hatta al-awda Until Return Zeina M.B. Zaatari, PhD
Saturday, July 15, 2006 5:10 AM
I JUST WANTED to let you know that we are still okay. My family and I are all staying put and doing okay so far. Not sure about what will the future bring on the personal level.
The US embassy is asking folks to stay put and telling them that if they choose to go to Damascus, they should do so at their own risk. Given that Israel has been bombing bridges and roads, we have all decided to stay put for now and see what will happen.
We barely slept for few hours last night, when we were woken up with planes roaming the skies above our heads and anti-aircraft artillery. We sat in the darkness as the electricity was still out listening and waiting to see what will happen. I also heard a helicopter flying over head. After a while, the planes raided few locations, the Zahrani bridge, the Hissbe (the major bulk grocery storage area), and few gas stations just on the southeastern entrance of the city (Saida - Sidon) and the western entrance of the Ein El Helwe refugee camp.
Now we are still hearing the planes flying overhead. They have been bombing many locations around the country with heavy artillery against villages on the southern border. The Israelis so far have not been able to enter Aita al-Shaab to recover the tank that was exploded by Hizbullah and the bodies of the soldiers that were killed in the original operation (this is a main indication that the operation did take place on Lebanese soil, not that in my opinion it would ever be an illegitimate operation, but still the media has been saying that it was inside 'Israel' thus an aggression first started by Hizbullah).
Last night they told the villagers of Al-Marwahiyya, a village near Aita Al-Shaab to leave within two hours. Villagers went to hide in the UNFIL's base. The French group refused to let them in. They went to the other base near the village and the Fijians after many negotiations took their names and sent them back to stay in mosques and in husayniyya (which seems to be a death sentence given that Israel bombed a husayniyya near Baakbeck two days ago).
It is really crazy times we are witnessing where all this aggression and collective punishment is done against Palestinians and now Lebanese with no voice, no condemnation from anywhere. It is crazy times when our own f****ing governments absolve themselves from any responsibility towards our people. It is true as Sayyed Hassan said, the resistance has never relied on these governments. Our only support is the Palestinian and Lebanese people and Iran and Syria. In the history of the struggle with Israel, no one was every able to take down an Israeli battleship. Sayyid Hassan's statement reassured many of us, but the battle by all expectations will be long. I fear for internal strife inside Lebanon and the future of our resistance. There is no option but to resist and stay strong.
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