BEIRUT - Much of Beirut is a devastated city: infrastructure in many areas
lies in a shambles after the Israeli bombing. But the Lebanese are also feeling
"Does our country not have the right to move forward like other democracies?"
asks Nidal Mothman, a 35-year-old taxi driver in downtown Beirut. "We hate
the American government for giving the green light for the Israelis to bomb
us back to the stone age."
Mothman, like so many Lebanese in the capital city, is seething with anger
over what he called "indiscriminate" Israeli aggression toward his
"How many Hezbollah have they killed?" Mothman asked. "Maybe
just a few, while they've killed over 350 Lebanese civilians. What kind of war
are they waging against my country?"
From the street to the leadership, most people seem to talk the same language.
Last Thursday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told reporters that his
country has been torn to shreds. "Can the international community stand
by while such callous retribution by the state of Israel is inflicted on us?"
Siniora also accused Israel of massacring Lebanese civilians and attempting
to destroy everything that allows the country to stay alive.
The facts on the ground add credence to his remarks. The humanitarian crisis
continues to worsen by the hour, with close to a million Lebanese displaced.
Officials say at least 64 bridges have been bombed. Many roads are cut by the
bombing, and this is hindering transportation of food and aid supplies.
Other Israeli targets have included the country's largest milk factory, a food
factory, two pharmaceutical plants, water treatment centers, power plants, grain
silos, a Greek Orthodox Church, hospitals, and an ambulance convoy.
In certain districts of Beirut, life goes on as normal, but southern Beirut
has been hit hard, with entire buildings brought to the ground by Israeli air
"When do you think this war will end?" 22-year-old student at the
American University of Beirut Nishan Ishaqi asked. "I lived in southern
Beirut, and everything I know is totally destroyed now. I only want peace, and
a safe place to stay."
Ishaqi, who was preparing to leave for Tripoli (north of Beirut in Lebanon)
to stay with relatives, wept as he said, "Why must they do this to us?
If they want to fight Hezbollah, let them fight them but not the Lebanese
Meanwhile, Israeli military operations continue to pummel southern Lebanon,
including the city of Tyre, while Lebanese in Beirut had a day of relative calm
Foreign war ships are crowding ports as evacuation of foreign nationals continues.
"Yes, we see the priorities of the Western countries as they evacuate their
people," 55-year-old clothing merchant in the Hamra district of Beirut
Ayad Harrar said. "So you see, screw the Lebanese, they do not matter to
us. This is what their governments are saying to us by these actions."
Harrar said people are shocked that his country was once again plunged into
war, just when they thought they had found peace.
"This afternoon it is calm, but we all know that when they finish evacuating
their people, we will be bombed once more," Harrar said. "It is not
possible to live a life while we live under these conditions, not knowing when
our day to die is coming from more Israeli bombs."
On Saturday, after meeting with members from a United Nations team who had
just returned from the region, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told
reporters that the situation in Lebanon was part of the "birth pangs of
a new Middle East," and said that Israel should ignore calls for a cease-fire.
Not many people in Beirut are able to see it that way. Suthir Amalat carrying
her child in one arm as she bought water to take home for emergencies said she
was preparing for everything to worsen.
"We are angry at Hezbollah for starting this catastrophe, but even more
angry at the Israelis for destroying all of Lebanon," she said. "And
America, who we thought was our friend, clearly now supports the Israeli destruction
of our country."
(Inter Press Service)