Pity the living and the days to come

“Black” by Mazen Kerbaj: Today we are tomorrow’s dead. See more of his work.

This “boom boom ha ha” technique doesn’t seem to work all the time, not with me, at least.

After 24 hours of “nothing” in Beirut, I was almost getting ready to bid you farewell, and thank you for your support during 14 long days.

Everything in Beirut was so calm I even went home for lunch. There were ongoing airstrikes on the south but no reports of causalities yet.

Kinda wanted to come with me to the office when she saw that I was going back there.

The minute we reached the street, we heard the sounds of four huge consecutive explosions. I don’t remember what I did - maybe I jumped - but when I looked at Kinda she was pale. It took her two seconds to get back down to earth and say the magic words “boom boom ha ha”. And she kept repeating that for five minutes, automatically. She was not smiling. She was asking, “Boom boom ha ha ?”.

Four people were killed and others were seriously wounded in that air strike on the southern suburbs. Yes, the suburbs again. I sent the pictures of the rubble, of people searching for their homes in streets that were completely wiped out, already, didn’t I?

Well, it seems that was not enough. I wonder what they’re looking for … it must be something really important.

Seven strikes hit the suburbs today, ten shells were dropped on an area that’s already almost completely destroyed.

They spared it for a while, so people went to check on their belongings and then … BOOM.

It killed four people; I know one of them. He’s my best friend’s young cousin. He went there with his brother, without telling their family, to check on their home that they’d left five days ago under the shelling. Mohamad is Palestinian. He was staying at his cousin’s house, Salim, my friend. At the moment he died, the moment Kinda and I had reached the street and heard the explosions, his mom and Salim were on Salim’s balcony, trying to locate were the shelling was falling. They did not know it hit a building that fell on four people and killed them. They did not know it was falling on Mohamad.

Now they do.

Counting the dead

Twenty people were killed today. It brings the toll up to 411 since July 12.

Nine-year-old Zeinab Mounes, her 11-year-old brother Mohamad and their uncle were found under the rubble of their house in Halloussiyeh where six air raids had destroyed three apartment buildings. Nine other people were injured. No one knows how many people are still under the rubble. One other civilian from the same village was killed in a morning raid.

Two civilians were killed in Ma’lyeh, west of Tyre.

One Palestinian was killed, five others wounded - one of them a child - in Rashidiyeh refugee camp.

Eight people were found under the rubble of their house in Qana.

Seven people, all of the same family, were killed when their house was destryed by a shell in Nabatiyeh.

Six Red Cross paramedics were injured on their way to Qana, IN AN AMBULANCE.

You want more? There’s plenty, but I just can’t keep doing this.

You were right, Linda, writing was therapeutic, but I’m just totally fed up.

Who cares? They’re dead. Killed. Chidren, women, men - oh yeah, some are men; unfortunately, their pictures aren’t as sensational as those of toddlers.

The UN “peace” keeping forces today evacuated a number of civilians from some villages in the south. Only those with a western nationality were evacuated. The filthy holders of Lebanese passports were begging them to take them along.

They did not. They just left them there to die.

Do they tell you about this in your newspapers? Do they tell you that the UN “humanitarian” envoy who came and toured my country was lecturing the refugees with that patronizing, arrogant, know-it-all and seen-it-all look in his eyes, while trying to look sweet and compassionate?

Do they tell you that this same guy, whose monthly wage is most probably higher then the yearly revenues of all those who died today, had concluded that my country needs 150 million dollars in humanitarian aid, and that once he reached Cyprus, he concluded all this was Hezbollah’s fault?

Do they tell you we’re not beggars? Do they tell you we don’t need charity? Do they tell you we work for a living? That we earn whatever we have? That we sweat, we sing, we read, we learn, we breathe, we love and we hate?

That woman, Hweiyda’s aunt, is not a beggar. She’s all alone with her burnt niece in a Beirut hospital. Four days ago, she had a house and a family. Four days ago she had a life.

Yesterday, when I gave her the hundred dollars Rola had given me for the people in need, she cried so hard it made me want to die.

Dignity. That’s what it’s all about.

Dignity.

No more pictures, that’s it. Showing their pictures will not “open the West’s eyes”. Showing their pictures will not bring them back. It will merely deprive them whatever is left from their dignity.

Those pictures are never published anywhere; there are rules that ban it. But apparently no rules ban killing people like this.

These people are not dying so we get to see their pictures.

Let them die, tens of them each everyday. Don’t pity them. I bet you they pity us. They pity us. They’re somewhere where nothing worse could happen to them.

We’re left here, dealing with our consciences, debating whose fault it is, what’s wrong and what’s right.

Pity us, pity those who did not get killed. Pity us who will be living in the “New Middle East” the US is tailoring for us. Pity the days to come.

Does Hweiyda know that there’s a bunch of people who will decide her fate in a conference in Rome?

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Hanady Salman is an editor at As-Safir newspaper