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Four days of counting explosions in Beirut
enney Thorson writing from Beirut, Live from Lebanon, 16 July 2006
Thursday 13 July
I saw my first bomb. : (
It was sort of an orange glow in a mound shape a ways off in the distance. Shortly thereafter we heard the boom. That spot was still burning just a bit ago from up on the roof. Israel dropped Arabic-language propaganda leaflets around at about 8:30 pm saying something about how it is all because of Hizbullah ... I have one that fell on our roof.
Friday 14 July
Awoke to planes overhead and another explosion to the south. Apparently
anti-aircraft also, red lights coming up from ground. My roommate Meredith
heard three bombs so far tonight or three planes ... Now Meredith thinks she's heard four bombs and/or sonic booms. The anti-aircraft go up as red lights and then twinkle white in the sky. It's still burning away in the south. The anti-aircraft were coming up not only from the south but from a more easterly neighborhood too. We can hear muezzin (call to prayer) singing someplace not too incredibly far away.
Another really loud plane and blast followed by at at least another plane (my roommate Amanda says a sonic boom). Lots of anti-aircraft (you dont always see them twinkle).
Another loud blast felt this one. Just when you think you can go back to bed. Amanda felt the door shake downstairs.
Another blast. These last two we didn't seem to see so I don't know whether they came from the same area. The smoke from the southern fire is spread all across the sky. Amanda said the US vetoed some UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel and I said thats half the reason the US exists.
Amanda sad there were two more bombs around 5:00 am. We still have power.
Meredith says she counted seven or eight blasts total. She heard on the news
that they hit fuel reserves, which explains the fire and black smoke still across the sky.
Jo Trainer, who lives in our building, says we're about two kilometers from the southern areas that were being hit. Israel hit the rest of the runways at the airport, the Beirut-Damascus highway and some buildings in the southern suburbs supposedly belonging to Hezbullah offices.
So the power went out while we were sleeping; were not sure exactly why, but it's been out since sometime between 9:45 and 10:45 at least.
Still fly-overs, sonic booms, anti-aircraft fire. Venturing out.
I've come up through Sassine to Sodeco and found the bagel shop. Lots of
places still have power though our techpoint did not. Hopefully I can find an Internet place to check the news and send emails.
They've struck again. I heard and felt two whilst making some food. I went up to the roof and our neighbor Rida said there were four straight in a row. Smoke was rising from the south. Power's gone out.
Bilal El-Amine writing from Beirut, Live from Lebanon, 16 July 2006
Hi everyone. First of all, I am fine as are family and friends. We're scattered in different places, some still in the south, some in Tyre, the rest in Beirut and its surroundings. Those who live in the southern suburbs where Hizbullah is based managed to leave before the latest strikes and are safe with relatives.
As most of you know, Hizbullah carried out a bold operation a few days ago and managed to capture two Israeli soldiers. The resistance has been saying for quite some time now that it intends to free the remaining Lebanese prisoners in Israel, most prominently Samir Qantar. Dubbed the "dean of the prisoners," Qantar is the longest serving Arab prisoner in Israel. He was to be released along with other Lebanese prisoners in a swap between Hizbullah and Israel. The Israeli government voted not to release him and two others and stupidly kept the prisoner file open.
The Hizbullah operation was an attempt to put an end to the matter. There were several previous unsuccessful attempts that were costly to the resistance. This operation, according to Nasrallah, the general-secretary of Hizbullah, was months in planning and its timing, which has been endlessly criticized, may have been logistical more than anything else.
In light of Israel's ferocious response, it is worth noting that the capture of the two Israeli soldiers was a pure military operation and did not as much scratch an Israeli civilian. Israel's counter is exactly the opposite - collective punishment of the civilian population by destroying the country's infrastructure and committing ugly massacres against families and fleeing refugees as they did yesterday in the south. Who's the terrorist in this case, even by the self-serving definitions peddled in Washington?
Why did Hizbullah do this; did they not know that Israel would respond this way? I'm certain that they considered this scenario as one of several. But Hizbullah's two decades of experience in dealing with Israel have taught it one thing and that is Tel Aviv will never budge on any matter without threat of force. Israel was compelled to leave southern Lebanon in May 2000 - after over 20 years of occupation - only after the resistance gained the upper hand militarily.