Monday, July 17, 2006

July 17, 2006

In a way, the eerie silence of no bombs going off, and the distant buzz of helicopters and fighter jets can be as scary as the actual bombardments. Well, not quite of course, the bombardment is nothing less than Hell on earth for those in the direct line of fire, while the silence is more of a psychological strain for those waiting to see if they will be in the line of fire. Last night as I lay in bed, I felt as though there was a lot of activity going on south from here. I heard not only fighter jets, but what sounded like helicopters as well. Actually, I heard what sounded like a small propeller airplane, but that must have been a helicopter; no small propeller airplanes are likely to be in the air over Beirut at this point. Unless it was an unmanned drone that is, perhaps sent out to inspect the success of the terror campaign so far. The Dahiyeh is no more. Lebanon is getting hit from north to south. Shou, Israel, are you running out of targets yet?

It appears not. Early this morning bombardment started, but either because I was so tired, or because it’s actually becoming normal, I barely registered what was going on. I had to read the news this morning to get it confirmed that they actually did bomb the Beirut port, not too far from here again this morning.

Against the recommendations of a loved one here in Beirut (so let’s keep it between us), I took a little walk to see the damage done to the Manara, the lighthouse just a brief walk from AUB. I was relieved to see the old lighthouse was still standing undamaged, but the new lighthouse down on the waterfront had clearly been hit. Supposedly, that’s what the gun ship was aiming at the other day when it was lobbing grenades over my head. I used to live in the Manara area and I know it well. I couldn’t resist walking around Hamra, just for a little while. After all, it had been quiet in my part of Beirut all day. Well, it didn’t take long before the bombing started, the sharp booms echoing between the buildings of Hamra, and I thought it wise to go to the nearest supermarket and stock up on some water and crackers.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones; this part of Beirut has taken few direct hits, and I’m holed up with AC and a constant supply of electricity here on campus. But the southern suburbs are completely devastated and innocent civilians are being murdered every day. I leave it to others to supply updates on the gruesome events in Lebanon for the past couple of days (my friends at http://lebanesebloggers.blogspot.com do a great job at that), and instead I focus on what I see and feel here.

I received a text message from the Swedish foreign ministry today. It said, loosely translated, “Evacuation in progress. No one will be forgotten. Do not go to the consulate in Beirut until you are instructed to do so. Everyone who has registered will be contacted.” I know there is a lot of criticism against the foreign ministry in Sweden right now, but what do people expect them to do? There is an aggression going on, this country is being torn to pieces and I don’t really know what the Swedish foreign ministry can do, more than what they are doing. Again, I know it’s easy for me to say that, since I’m not one of those in direct need of evacuation. I can stay here for quite a few days without the situation being critical. Of course, if food and water supplies run low, then I’ll be worried. For the time being, it doesn’t look too bad right here in that respect.

Just now, as I was writing, I heard a fighter jet diving outside my window, and then a boom. As I look out, I can see leaflets slowly falling to the ground down by the Corniche. Either more propaganda against Hizballah, or perhaps a warning of more strikes to come? Whatever they want to say, I’m not interested. I understand that Israel wants security, but what they are doing now will not bring security; they are planting the seed for a new generation of fierce enemies. I can hear distant rumbling now. I wonder how many humans they are killing this time.

13 Comments:

Blogger Suha said...

You are my hero for sticking it out despite the fact that you can leave, unlike most Lebanese.

Hey, did you know that the US embassy makes people pay for their evacuations? Cynical considering that they are part of the problem rather than the solution.

3:23 AM  
Blogger Xyndrom said...

I don't believe you,you're a good writer tho. you've described your quest for Food and Alcohol better than your personal war experience.

nice read, 2.7 stars

4:03 AM  
Blogger skunk said...

go grab the leaflet if its fallin right outside your window. IDF normally notifies before leveling an area so it could be important.

hmm didnt know the us made people pay.

the japanese also made people pay during the first gulfwar and actually made them pay ridiculous amounts, something like $20 for instant noodles cos they were "specially flown in",...fuckin beaurocrats!

4:59 AM  
Blogger erydan said...

Suha, are sure about that? My understanding is they will evacuate to a safe port ie Cypress then you are responsible for your trip home... If you cannot afford it they will provide a loan for your trip home. Unfortunately, to expect them to act as your freebee travel agency is unrealistic.

Anyways, I am here waiting for the Canadians to sent the their dingy, the HMS Newfie, and their special forces team of rowers to get me out.:)

5:08 AM  
Blogger larson said...

Hi. I am looking for the author of "Beruit under Siege" to do a radion interview in the US. PLease email me at mlarson@npr.org with your email and cell phone ASAP if you are available to talk in the next hour. Or if there is another US/European student who is studying in Beruit and speaks English and wants to tell their story, please send email and cell phone.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Adriane said...

Hi. I am also looking for the author of "beiruit under siege." I am a reporter for the Washington Post writing a story about bloggers in Beirut.

My email is quinlana@washpost.com and I would be really interesting in knowing more about your story.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Xyndrom said...

@Adriane, SC!

10:38 AM  
Blogger dunno said...

Thanks for the update on your walk to Manara. Even if it gets you into trouble! But it is a good kind of trouble, the grief you get for being loved. Don't push her too far by being foolhardy. But I think she should just about forgive a walk to Manara. There is not a lot else on the corniche worth shooting at!

I wish I could be sitting out at that bar right down on the rocks, watching the fishermen and smelling the narghile as the sun sets. I know they don't sell beer ... but some places don't have to. I think when this thing is over, and I can get back into town ... that is the first place I will go. Not as cool as downtown ... but somehow so much more the real Beirut.

There are people I love not far from you. I have only been able to get through once on the phone these last 3 days. And the person that really matters to me can not get on line. So reading your blog is a real comfort. It keeps me sane. I am sure I can not be the only one desperate for any bit of news ... and especially the news that reminds us that the Beirut we love is still there. Yours is a really great blog. Keep it up, take care. Thanks.

11:00 AM  
Blogger dunno said...

PS - sorry if my post above seems a bit too selfish. I know this is not really the time for nostalgic fantasy, and the AUB is such a small and unrepresentative fragment of Lebanon. There is a lot of scary shit out there. I do not want to diminish what anyone is going through. And mostly I am angry and anxious.

It is just that thinking of your walk to Manara, let me remember the good stuff ... And right now remembering the good stuff is so important. Things are on the edge of falling apart, and you have to find some optimism from somehere, to pick yourself up and press on. This is mostly for the Lebanese ... but those of us from outside who have come to love the place, must do our bit. If we care for something, we will look after it. Hope that makes sense ...

11:10 AM  
Blogger Doha said...

you're still sticking it out Andy. you're a brave soul. stay safe. i'm sending all the journalists who ask for bloggers in Beirut to your site. you're going to be famous :)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Yoav said...

My name is Yoav, and I'm a translator. I wish to translate your BLOG to Hebrew. You’ll be amazed how many Israelis do not speak English. Maybe that will help them understand.

Yours,
Yoav

7:51 PM  
Blogger Lost in translation said...

Just wanted to say that I am really amazed of your courage. I read about your blog here in Dubai in the 7 days newspaper. Take care, and stay safe (even though the conditions arent the best). /M

1:04 AM  
Blogger Hardig said...

Suha, Doha, Lost in Translation,

I appreciate your kind words, but I'm not exactly suffering here; I'm quite comfortable where I am. Granted, bombardment is a strange and scary experience, but so many are suffering badly from this conflict, I'm hardly one of them and I don't want to sound like I'm some kind of martyr here, with my AC, running water, constant access to electricity, and the Internet.

And Yoav, if you think a translation of what I write could be of help, then feel free. But it is important that nothing I say is misrepresented as a black or white argument, because, as I always say, there is nothing black or white here, only various shades of grey.

5:02 AM  

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