Joao Silva for The New York Times; Smoke billowed and a fuel tank continued to burn in Jiyeh, just south of Beirut, where at least 10,000 tons of oil have spilled into the sea since Israeli airstrikes hit a fuel storage depot there on July 13 and 15.
Walid Raad --2 letters from beirut -- 07.15.06
Yet another day of bombing all over the place. In the mountain here, we were subject to about three different bombing runs: 1 to continue destroying the Beirut to Damascus road; another to destroy the cell phone antennas; and another to again hit the Beirut to Damascus road. Just a few minutes ago, the house was shaking again, and I only assume the Israelis are pounding the same area. The safe areas are much further to the north, the northeastern enclave, an area traditionally christian. Listening to Nasrallah's speech tonight was not reassuring one bit. After pleading with the Lebanese to stand firm, and after denouncing Arab government leaving Lebanon to pay the price for Israeli aggression, he asked us all to look at sea and watch the Israeli gunboat that had been pounding the coast and hills all day. he said that it was about to be hit by a HizbAllah missile. He promised that it will burn, that it will sink, that its sailors will die. It made me sickto my stomach, almost as much as it makes me sick to hear Olmert, Bush, the Saudi, and Palestinian position about this. Nasrallah also called for an open war against Israel, and that he will hit Haifa, and what is behind Haifa, and behind and behind Haifa. What this means remains unlcear. But clearly it is worrying. Within minutes of the speech, parts of West Beirut were celebrating. The city is about to be reduced to rubble, and fireworks are being fired in the air. Incredible. Al-Jazeera and most local networks pointed their lenses towards to sea, to look for a missile launch, which came but was not visible. This is just not good. This is just about to get worse. I dont know what to think anymore. Pundits are speculating, making noise: Did HizbAllah need to drag Lebanon into this mess at this time? How can HizbAllah monopolize the decision to launch a war, to destroy the country? Others are convinced that Israel is simply intent on enforcing resolution 1559, namely to disarm HizbAllah by force. HizbAllah is asking everyone to stand form, and to be patient. This has happened before and we have triumphed. We will triumph again, they say. Whatever all this leads to, one thing is certain, the scale of the destruction is enormous. People are dying in the south and elsewhere. Too many. The bombing has moved to the north and in the past hour positions inside Syria were hit. Iran has said that were Syria to be hit, they will respond. A regional war? What's going on? [read on...]
Via the NEWS section at Greg Sholette's website, (July 13 - ongoing):[Thanks Carrie, Sheila...]
The following sequence of emails were sent to me in NYC (beginning July 13th EST) by my friend Rasha, a film curator and cultural critic from Beirut who is now back in Lebanon. I am posting them on this site because they
provide insight, analysis, and a unique perspective on the expanding war.
Letters from Lebanon, 2006 [Link]
In the Israeli invasion of 1982, I was in West Beirut. I was 13 years old. All my friends and classmates fled the siege of West Beirut. The political rifts were different then, but I remember that when I returned to school after the withdrawal of the Israeli forces that fall, I carried the burden of the trauma of the siege while my classmates had memories of fun and games of that summer spent in the mountains. While they recalled witnessing shells fall on Beirut from a distance, I recalled their sound as they exploded. I resented all the stories they told of that summer. They were all happy stories. I shut my ears when they recalled them. Until now, there are a set of songs that were popular then, that I cannot hear without feeling a pinch of anxiety in my stomach. It's the impact of that trauma. Part of the reason I cannot leave Beirut is that I don't want to become like them. It's like a pledge I made to myself. But this is happening again, on a smaller scale, because the shelling has reached beyond the southern suburbs of Beirut and the south.
These distances that separate the people of this country have to be bridged somehow. The "united" front has to find a more cogent gel. We have everything to win if we are able to meet that challenge. We have our country to win. If we remain hapless victims who beg, and who remain beholden to the "charity" of Arabs we will never have full sovereignty... Hezbollah's victory can be articu-lated to become Lebanon's victory (this too might be naive folly on my part, but I need to believe this, at least for the next few days, so just humor me). Particularly now that the Syrians are making noises about plans to roll their rusted tanks and army of underfed and illiterate soldiers with its thuggish command back in the country.I am so weary of the return of Syrian control over Lebanon. The Syrian people, all those pictured cursing the Lebanese for their arrogance and lack of gratitude should protest against a re-entry of the Syrian military into Lebanon. And if the self-described "last fort of dignity of the Arabs" are inspired to fight Israel, they have the entire front of the Golan to do so. The Lebanese will not liberate the Golan, the Syrians will have to. You don't subcontract liberation. Moreover, Hezbollah has claimed time and time again that they are prepared for the long haul and don't need a bullet from any of the Arab states.This is another reason for the Lebanese political forces to band around the resistance and shield the country.We might have a chance to rebuild this country without owing a percentage of every contract to a thug from the Syrian junta, and that feels like humane relief.
I will end this siege note with another of the obsessions that taunt me.
People caught under rubble. In describing the surreptitious commonplace horror of the civil war in a televised interview perhaps ten years ago, the famous Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury drew the following scene. While everyday life was taking place, traffic, transactions, just the mundane stuff of life, and as you walked passed buildings, you knew that in the underground of that commonplace building, there might be someone kidnapped, waiting to be traded or simply held in custody for money or whatever reasons militias kidnapped for. And you walked by that building.
I am haunted by the nameless and faceless caught under rubble. In the undergrounds of destroyed buildings or simply in the midst of its ravages. Awaiting to be given a proper burial.
Useful links [thanks Carrie]:
Updates from a grassroots group working with refugees in central Beirut. In coordination with the media center in Beirut DC. "The Sanayeh Relief Center is composed of groups who were on the ground on the first day of the Israeli aggression on Lebanon. We are coordinating between humanitarian aid and the displacement centers in Beirut, providing information, and organizing political action against the complicity of the 'international community'."
News updates from Lebanon. Unless stated otherwise, these are headline items from NewTV, one of the main Lebanese television stations.