Zena El-Khalil

After the ceasefire

This past week has been slow and tough. It is almost as if last month was all played in fast forward and then since the ceasefire, we are moving in ultra slow motion. For the last month, I just wanted everything to end. Now I don’t know where to begin. For the last month, I would purposefully try and numb myself because I was too afraid to feel everything. Today I am begging for my feelings to return because without them, I cannot live. After a month of stress and living in fear, everything has caught up with me. My throat hurts a lot and my stomach is a perpetual mess. The knots have not gone yet and its beginning to cause physical damage. I am down, down, down. I couldn’t lift a finger to type. I couldn’t answer my phone calls. It was so difficult to wake up in the morning (and I’m usually Mrs. super positive!). 

On the eve of ceasefire

This morning, I woke up with a smile on my face. My husband had jumped on top of me, kissing me all over my face, saying that the war was going to end, that the UN voted, that things were going to get better now. I had only fallen asleep two hours earlier, but jumped out of bed with a kind of energy I hadn’t had in over a month. It was a good morning. Everything changes this weekend. Things are supposed to come to some kind of end. One way or another. On the eve of ceasefire, I have mixed emotions. I am grateful that things are coming to and end. However, the real work now lies ahead of us. It’s not just about rebuilding — lives, country and morale. It’s also about moving forward positively on all sides. 

It's raining bombs; only two hours of electricity

Last night, I counted at least 12 explosions. It was a difficult night. They just wouldn’t stop. I only heard 12; others say there were at least 18. They just kept going. The Israeli army announced yesterday that they were expanding their attacks into Beirut. And indeed they did, hitting areas in central Beirut! Today has been difficult getting online. Electricity is less and less. We are down to about two hours a day. Because there is a fuel and diesel shortage, it has become difficult to keep the generators going. You know in Beirut, everyone lives in apartment buildings; with the electricity shortage, it has become hard for the elderly to move in and out of their homes. 

One-month anniversary

It has been one month now. For one month, Lebanon has had bombs drop on her. In one month, I have aged 50 years. For one month, I have cried everyday. As the days unfold, the news is only getting worse. I find myself sinking … it has become so hard to write. How many times can I keep repeating, help, Israel is targeting civilians; Israel is blowing up the whole country; infrastructure has been hit; all the highways have been hit; roads and bridges, hit; food and wheat storages, gas and fuel supplies, communication towers, ports all hit; hospitals shutting down because they have run out of fuel … the whole country is slowly being choked to death? 

War is becoming a way of life

As each day goes by, war is becoming a way of life. And that is so dangerous. People must never get used to this. Today it is Lebanon … but tomorrow, who will be next? Violence begets violence. And all this attack is doing is creating more hate for the West in this region. It didn’t have to be like this. It was only a month ago that I was in the south of Lebanon listening to the radio. The station was being broadcasted from Israel — they were playing great music from the ’80s. I was listening, enjoying the tranquility, and thinking about how similar we were. A part of me wants to just sleep and wake up when this is all over with — however, I am so scared that when I do wake up, things will just be a lot worse. 

And it gets worse ...

Last night … last night … I don’t even know where to begin … It seems the bombs are getting louder. Perhaps they are the new ones from the US expedited delivery. They hit everywhere last night. Beirut, Jounieh, roads leading to the north, bridges in the north; the only highway left, leading to the north, the last escape route to Syria, was hit. We are all trapped now. Waiting … waiting … The bombs started around 1 am in Dahiye. We had some friends over. Everyone was in a state of panic. We waited a bit and then everyone made a run for it, to go home. 

Beirut will never die

Despite the threats of Beirut being blown up today, here were people working … here were everyday people, coming together to help in any way they could. I was filled with so much love, being around such passionate people. Something changed tonight. I guess when you are looking at death, straight in the eyes, you find a new kind of courage. You realize how important it is to hang on to what you have. You fight for life with a new kind of passion. I have spent the last three weeks mourning the loss of Beirut … mourning the loss of my dreams and my work. Now, it’s time to accept what is happening and take charge of the situation. Beirut, she will never die. 

I refuse to say goodbye

Just got home … was driving like crazy. Word on the street is that Israel is threatening to hit Beirut now. I feel so helpless. I called Maya, she said that if she dies today that i could keep her DVDs that I’m borrowing. I told her the same. I called my husband and told him to come home right away. If I die, I want to be in his arms. My little brother is here with me. He is 20 years old. He is making some tea now. He believes it is going to be ok. We are supposed to be discussing a plan he has to make t-shirts with slogans on them to raise money for the relief shelter he is volunteering at. 

Every time I think that things can't get worse, they do

There is a black dust that is filling the air. We are breathing it in … constantly. It has settled on my clothes, in my kitchen — it is everywhere. We are guessing it is from the Jiye power station that was bombed. It is still on fire. It is the power station from which the oil spill originated from.Today I had my first experience at queuing for gas. The shortages have arrived. So many gas stations have shut down. The few that are left have long queues. I waited for 40 minutes, and when my turn came, I was give $10 worth only. I only have a few minutes left before the electricity gets cut. we are running on generator now and they usually turn it off at midnight. 

Chasing oil and coming home to another massacre

I had a really bad headache all day … we were driving on the coastal road, stopped every few minutes to document. The smell was so strong. When I got home, I blew my nose and the tissue was all black. I made sure to take a really good shower. We were going to send out the press release, pics and video today, but we got even worse news … There had been a massacre in Qana early this morning. History repeats itself. The Israelis dropped a bomb on a building that was sheltering refugees. The news at this point is that 55 were killed. It was only a few years ago that the Israelis did the same thing, except last time, it was a UN building that they hit and over 100 people were killed.