Monday, October 30, 2006

Eyes on Aita El Shaeb!

Fotos from Aita El Shaeb - a village in the south of Lebanon close to the border with Israel/Palestine hosting around 10,000 inhabitants. The destruction is unbelievable, this is a small example of what you might see keeping in mind over 1.2 million unexploded bomblets as the result of Israel using cluster bombs during the war on Lebanon. An estimate of 80 percent destruction in Aita El Shaeb.

The village witnessed a battle between the Israeli occupation forces and the villagers joined by Hezbollah fighters.

Thanks for Blue Pi for providing the pictures.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Popcorn" bombs

It is estimated that Israeli bombings of Lebanon left more than a million unexploded cluster bombs and anti-personnel weapons. Few lie around in Yasmine´s garden. Yasmine is 11 years old from a small village in the south of Lebanon and a good tour guide around her family´s garden showing you the remaining unexploded cluster bombs. Two to give a count, one is hiding high in the grape vine and the other next to a little rock. They look nonthreatening, just little odd metal canisters calling to be removed. But Yasmine is good at protecting you; she asks you firmly not to touch them nor get close to them only to laugh later as she teases you that you can never know when the one on the grape vine would fall; "so you´d better be ready to run". “Sometimes brown vine leaves fall and we would run thinking it is the bomb... it is very scary. But after we run and hide and notice it is just a vine leave we laugh a lot. Only Allah knows when will it fall; I hope it falls when we are out on a visit, this way it will explode and we will get rid of it without getting hurt.”

Everybody speaks of the cluster bombs in the south. Ask anyone and you will get stories of where they were found, or how someone died or got amputated as a result of one. A daily fear that we are living with these days turned into a nightmare with the begining of the rain season – rainwater covering the bomblets with mud. Rain can smoothly push some bombs under rocks, can pat the grass on top of others and even bury it totally with mud. The rain started, and so did the nightmare. It is you and your luck with your life in your hand for years to come. So walk, move, touch and look carefully... it can be anywhere, and one tiny mistake is fatal. Read on!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hezbollah - The Beauty and the Beast within

Armed resistance against Israeli occupation and Israeli aggression on Lebanon and in affinity with the Palestinian struggle has been a mark in Lebanese modern history and society since as back as 1948. There have been communist, socialist, Lebanese and Arab nationalist, Palestinian, and Muslim parties and individuals in Lebanon that picked up arms against the Israeli war and occupation machine. Hezbollah is not the first to use armed struggle nor will it be the last as long as Israel continues its political and military agenda in the region; yet in recent years there is a noticeable absence of leftist and progressive groups from the resistance front. The absence of leftist and/or progressive armed resistance cannot be attributed to lack of support or conviction in such strategies but rather to the lack of arms and needed financial resources within leftist groups. The support for armed resistance against Israeli occupation within radical leftists groups in Lebanon is strong and is blended with serious criticism of Hezbollah´s political discourse on the internal Lebanese front - an intricate discussion that takes up a lot of space in the Lebanese society.

Before Hezbollah came into existence mid eighties, there existed a long line of armed resistance against Israel. There have been as well many operations with the objective of capturing Israelis for prisoner-exchange attempts whether for Lebanese prisoners, Palestinians or both. Hezbollah assumes a continuation for this extended line of armed resistance that was backed by a wide popular support strengthened by a diverse participation of Lebanese and Palestinian political parties. For example, one of the key figures in the current prisoners exchange equation, Samir Kontar, is imprisoned by Israel as a result of his active role in the resistance against Israeli occupation years before Hezbollah came into existence. This line linking Hezbollah´s armed resistance to an adorned herstory of struggle contributes today to its popular support outside its Shiite base. Yet it is important to note that Hezbollah´s popularity outside Muslim Shiite circles feeds on a leftist frustration - and a general Arab one - when it comes to confronting the Israeli war machine. The differences between Hezbollah´s armed resistance - both ideologically and in practice - from the precedent currents of resistance and from the discourse of a wide base of the supporters of Hezbollah´s resistance today, are clearly and strikingly marked by both sides. Yet the collective frustration resulting from the helplessness of leftist and progressive parties in the face of Israel, added upon by international criminalization of the resistance, both silent and vocal support for Israeli crimes, and the lack of viable alternatives, play an important role in shaping people´s views of the disarmament of Hezbollah.