Sunday, 16 July 2006

Israeli jets: Beirut blown up

I just received this letter from Beirut, written by Zena el-Khalil on the morning of Friday, the 14th of July. It communicates some tiny fragment of the experience of having your city and your community destroyed, blown up by Israeli jets.

The letter was forwarded to me by a friend who noted that Lebanon was "yet another country under siege". Given it was a forwarded e-mail, presumably to be forwarded on, I didn't think that the author or the person who sent it to me would mind me making this moving testimony more widely available.

It's Monday morning now and Israel and Hizbullah's terrorist violence hasn't stopped; the UK and the US, who had previously expected their citizens to stay and pray, have started to work towards evacuation, another proof that this is not expected to end in days.

Zena el-Khalil wrote:
For the last half hour or so, I have been watching the skyline outside my balcony. It is on fire. It's 4:14am.

At 3:28am this morning, I woke up to the sound of Israeli jets flying low over our skies in Beirut. I was just beginning to finally fall asleep, had racing thoughts in my mind all night, cramps in my stomach, fear... Just as I thought I was going to fall asleep, I heard the sound of jets, followed by one explosion after another.

It has calmed down now. I hear morning prayers in the distance.

I am at home with some friends who have taken refugee with us. A lot of them [are] Foreigners. We are trying to explain... Who, what, why.. But, we're also trying to be normal. Because being normal is what got Lebanese through 20 some years of war. We are joking about how the airport is on fire because of all the alcohol in the duty free. We are trying to be normal.

Up until now, Israel has done the following:
  • blown up our international airport, run ways, gas reserves for planes (no one can leave or enter the country.)
  • blown up small military domestic airports (both in the north and south)
  • blown up all bridges and roads linking beirut to the south
  • blown up areas/villages of the south, everything from the deep south to saida
  • blown up ... As I type this now, another jet is flying by, it is so loud...
  • Continue... Blown up the suburbs (Dahiye).. Three missiles
  • blown up the beirut-damascus road at several points
  • we are surrounded at sea as well, there are military ships launching attacks
... Not watching tv anymore, but I know there is so much more going on.

Thousands evacuated their homes from the south today. They had to walk for miles because their cars could not cross the highway.

Another jet and another explosion. This is all going into Dahiyeh. I can see the red anti aircraft "bullets" being shot in retaliation. Pointless. The weapons Hizbullah have are so old and out dated (World War II left overs from Russia).. No match for Israeli technology.

Newest update, it's 4:26am, Israelis are attacking the city, "Saida" from sea. They are targeting the bridge that connects to Saida.

Another really loud bomb. My heart is racing. I can only pretend to be brave.

Everything that is happening now is because Israel is trying to wipe out any trace of Hizuballah in Lebanon. In the process of doing all this, they have wiped out our infrastructures. Our roads, bridges, etc. civilian homes, innocent lives.

It's 4:32am and I have a knot in my stomach. I am praying they don't hit the electricity. I want my internet. I think it's the only thing that will help me stay normal.

Latest update; 9 missile raids into Dahiyeh in the last hour. There are now several parts of Beirut without electricity. The sky is glowing red.

I am praying for the people in Dahiyeh .. Another really really loud bomb. I guess that makes it 10 now.

I am angry now. the things that cross your mind... I just set up a new installation last week, now, no one will get to see it. I was just about ready to launch an international residency program here.. Not going to happen now. was just planning to start a family, who wants to get pregnant now?

Ladies and gentlemen, I did not want to burden you with the troubles of war, but I think it is really important that the world knows what is going on. We are under attack by israel. It is unjust and unfair. I wonder what the media coverage is like out there. All this must end. Israel must be stopped. This is so unjust and unfair. Everything we've worked on for the past 10 years is gone now. so, so so, unjust and unfair. We had so many cultural events planned for the summer... Exhibits... Concerts... Plays.. Etc. all gone.

Israel can not keep going into where ever they choose to go to and blow it up!

Lebanon can not be occupied again by Israel.

Dear friends, pray for us. For this madness to end. Pray for the Lebanese people to stick through this together and not lose their cool.

With love,

Zena el-Khalil 5:02am

Believe it or not, the sun is beginning to rise and I actually hear birds chirping.
Neither Israel nor Hizbullah will get what it wants; all that they are achieving - jointly - is the destruction of civilians' lives, including the lives of people they claimed to be serving and protecting by their actions.

[Updated at 7pm on the 17th of July 2006.]

[Listen to voices from the conflict.]

Israeli jets have bombed Beirut; Hizbullah rockets have hit Haifa. [Both are killing the innocent people they needed to empathise with them and polarising the communities (within each community and against each other).]

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