Four days of bombing in Beirut

The aftermath of attacks by Israel on Lebanon, 16 July 2006. (Peter Speetjens/IRIN)

For four days straight, since 12 Wednesday at around noon, Israel has been bombing Beirut, the south of Lebanon, parts of the Bekaa and other parts in Lebanon non-stop. It is 12:49 am Sunday morning right now, and in Beirut, Israeli warplanes are bombing successively on an area called Haret Hreik in the southern suburbs of Beirut, and they have just announced that there is a big fire expanding in the whole area.

Two things are sure: First, Israel seems determined to continue its terrorizing, brutal and non-human offensive on Lebanon. Second, - and this what I hope will change the mind of people around the world who believe the Israeli military - when Israeli officials say that one of their priorities in their offensives (anywhere, not only in Lebanon) is to make sure not to hurt civilians, this you can reject by following the news of Lebanon.

I can’t take out my mind the image I saw on TV yesterday when they showed the Israeli soldiers on one of the Israeli warships that was stationed at a few kilometers away from the coastline of Beirut (this was taken by a video camera on the ship itself or a boat next to the ship). They first showed three Israeli military men from their backs trying to target their rocket on a certain place just south of Beirut. After they fire their rocket, one of them, not more than 20 years old, turns around, looks at the camera and smiles naively.

Since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on Lebanon, more than 100 civilians have had their lives taken by the Israeli bombs; lots of them are children, women and the elderly. This is without counting the hundreds of injured people sleeping in the hospitals in the south, which apparently are becoming saturated and have declared that they will have a medication shortage soon if the situation doesn’t calm down. This is without mentioning the hundreds of refugees that fled their homes in the southern suburbs of Beirut or ones who had the chance of fleeing their homes from the south and who are now taking refuge in over 40 schools in Beirut, and certain public spaces in the city like in public gardens, without a roof on top of their heads. Most of those refugees are women who have fled with their children. Those people left their houses in a matter of a few minutes, probably leaving behind a lot of their belongings. How will they sustain themselves in those refuges, lacking food, medication and blankets? Since a few hours ago, Israel has been demanding from residents of the villages in southern Lebanon to leave their villages. Where do they go? And how do they leave if Israel has just spent the last three days destroying the main roads to other cities?

For two hours now, Israeli warplanes have been bombing the Haret Hreik area, and just now they threw three bombs on Moucharafiyeh area, also in the southern area of Beirut.

For the people in Beirut, day and night is unbearable; it is hard to close your eyes or put a piece of bread in your mouth. But for the people in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in the villages in southern Lebanon, where roads are now completely cut off from each other and from the big cities, the situation is simply hell. The calmer times during the day are not at all better than the times when they are bombing. Fathers and mothers run around their area to go get bread from the bakery, or batteries from the small shops in order to be able to listen to the radio since there is no electricity in Beirut. They run around quickly, knowing that any moment the bombing will start again and hoping they will get back to their homes and family before that happens.

I will now state what the Israeli army has done in the past 24 hours in Lebanon. I feel it is important to do this for whoever can write from Beirut, because looking at CNN and other international media outlets makes one want to tear his hair our of his head. Nothing of the details is being mentioned. I will write based on what I remember from today, to be able to send this letter before electricity goes out.

  • In the morning, Israeli warplanes bombed main roads that lead to Syria several times. The airport is closed; there are Israel warships in the sea, and now they are trying to close all ways to get out of the country by the road. They bombed one of the roads that goes from Beirut to Damascus several times. And on multiple occasions, bombed one of the roads that takes people from Tripoli to Homs in Syria.
  • Today, they have been continuously bombing area of the south of Lebanon. The civilian death toll that went from around 60 yesterday to about 100 today results mainly from civilian deaths in the south. Twenty-five houses were demolished in two adjacent villages, and several other civilian houses in other areas of the South.
  • Twenty-one civilians were killed in one minute in a massacre that took place in the South today afternoon. An Israeli warplane shelled a bus that was traveling from one village in the south to the city of Sour (Tyre) in the south, carrying 21 civilians, mostly women and children, feeling their village.
  • Either warplanes or warships bombed the port of Beirut, the port of Jounieh (north), the port of Amshit (north), the port of Tripoli (north), which results in a more brutal sea blockade.
  • Again and again, continuous bombing on villages in the south and in the Bekaa region (specifically, Baalback city in the Bekaa) and since the afternoon continuous bombing on the southern suburbs of Beirut.

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    Sawsan Kalache is currently in Lebanon on a delegation organized by Tadmaon!, a collective of activists from Montreal, in an effort to build solidarity with social justice movements in Lebanon