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The Daily Shrapnel: Dispatches from Post-War Lebanon

By: 
Zein El-Amine
Date Published: 
January 01, 0001
    "Gentlemen, you have transformed our country into a graveyard You have planted bullets in our heads, and organized massacres Gentlemen, nothing passes like that without account All that you have done to our people is registered in notebooks" -Mahmud Darwish

The Daily Shrapnel #1: Death in Deir Keifa Beirut Monday, October 16th My grandmother's house in the southern village of Deir Keifa sits, as all the villages around there, on a hill facing many hills and valleys extending to the horizon. Decades ago a second part of the village was built on an adjacent hill which was called Shmaise'. The courtyard in the house faces away from the village and opens to shamaise, the winding road that lines the valley and a crusader fort with a scattering of houses . During the recent Israeli aggression (how mild this term seems now) a pilot less plane roamed that valley and the surrounding areas. This nasty piece of machinery takes pictures of the landscape below or sends photos to Apache helicopters or other airplanes so they can hone in their targets. This is the MK or what the southern Lebanese refer to as Im Kamil (kamil's mother). Previousl the MK was unarmed but after the first week of this war the MKs were buzzing around armed with rockets. This one afternoon IM Kamil came armed with three rockets. Which meant that it did not need any outside help - an israeli soldier is sitting back in some room in israel seeing what she sees and firing at targets at will. As my two aunts watched from my grandmother's courtyard an MK hovered above the valley making a frightful hum that usually preceded devastation. No one moved outside their houses, not even to go out in their yards. The courtyard was covered so my aunts watched from safety. Then a civilian car came down the winding road and everyone watching from the three hills held their breath hoping that the car will make it through the valley and into the safety of the village. They recognized the car as one of the villagers living at the end of the winding road. The villager was spotted in the passenger seat and his son was driving. They were driving at a great speed in an attempt to come rescue the villager's wife and take her up north. Then the MK fired the first rocket and it smashed through the roof of the car and continued through the driver. Minutes went by and then the father emerged from the passenger side miraculously unscathed. He ran up the road and started to shout for help toward the Shmaise neighborhood. The residents yelled at him to get under a tree and he kept yelling " My son is dead . My son is dead!" They yelled at him again telling him that if he gets under a tree them Im Kamil will not see him. They yelled that if any of them move then Im Kamil will get them. They told him to stay put and they will get him and his son after the skies are clear. But he was too traumatized and panicked and he kept running up and down the winding road until im kamil spotted him and hit him with a rocket. For the next half hour, my aunts and villagers watched this man die a slow death - one moment he would raise a leg , the next an arm , and so on until he was still. It took another 5 hours before the villagers where able to come down and get the bodies. My aunt walade has been too many wars but this incident drove her away from my grandmother's house where she has been living. She now lives with my uncle in the same village and is planning to move to another village before winter. Its time to say it: these methods that Israel used are Gestapo methods. They remind me of the curfews that the Nazis enforced on the jews whereby you were shot if you defied them. The whole south was under that curfew for a whole month. This is the horror, the hope comes later. Zein -------------------------------------------------------------- The Daily Shrapnel # 2: A River of Hope Beirut October 17, 2006 4:30 pm Ziad Boutrous is the Simon of the Middle East. His show "Superstar" is the Arab world's "American Idol". So we can safely say that his is a bit in the mainstream. A couple of nights ago Ziad made a statement on TV that pricked up my ears: " I thank god that i was born in the age of resistance." The resistance he was referring to was the Lebanese resistance, specifically Hezbollah. It would be important to point out that Ziad is a Christian Lebanese. It would be more important to point out Ziad's sister's reaction to the recent war on Lebanon and the artistic response that she developed with her brother. Julia is a known Lebanese singer with looks and style that could easily go on the cover of Elle or Vogue. So she does not exactly fit the stereotyped picture of the Hezbollah supporter that the US media paints for us. In the midst of the recent Israeli aggression, as the UN and the world stood by as the Lebanese were massacred and as it became apparent that the Lebanese resistance is the only hope to stop this barbarity, the Lebanese citzenry took to the streets in a spontaneous outburst . They surrounded the UN building downtown Beirut and began to break its windows. As the crowd gathered to vent, Julia popped up in their midst , surprising the demonstrators and electrifying them with a fiery speech that condemned the Israeli brutality, praised the resistance and singled out Nasrallah (head of Hezbollah) for special praise. This was a speech that came from the heart and was charged with great anger and genuine indignation, not the stilted garbage that we get from our local politicians here. The crowd carried her on their shoulders and the Lebanese media picked this moving scene. But Julia did not stop there - she and her brother Ziad (the Simon of the Middle east) decided, after the seize fire, to compose a song to immortalize the victory of the resistance and to encourage a new generation pick up the batton of liberation and defense of the south and the nation. This song was based on a poetic response that Nasrallah had written in answer to a letter of praise sent to him by a group of Lebanese citizens. The music video accompanying this song which was titled "Ahibai" (my loved ones), was completed this week and we had the pleasure of watching it with the rest of the nation last night on Al Jazeera TV. It was filmed in the recently devastated village of bint Jubail and featured real children and the real fighters from the village. The children, with Julia in their midst spill out of the ruins in a river of hope the fills the recently created spaces of the market area. But it goes from those scenes of destruction (which i recently filmed extensively). to the beautiful plains of Khardali near the Litani River to highlight the relience and the beauty of Lebanon. When Julia was asked, on air, about her experience with the people of the village, she answered, without a second of hesitation, that she felt she was walking among people of with great integrity and faith, that when she walked with them she felt she was "walking among angels." In my travels here and especially in my converstaions with the children of the villages i have had that feeling too. with love and resilience, Zein