July 20, 2006
I received another text message from the Swedish foreign ministry last night. It said that one boat would leave today, Thursday, and one tomorrow. I’m not sure if this is my last chance or not, but as I see it, I have no choice but to get on one of those boats. I’ll wait till tomorrow though, no need to rush. It may even be the ship I see outside my window right now; it looks like the one I’ve seen in pictures from the Swedish evacuation yesterday. At any rate, I’m highly conflicted about leaving, but I’m not doing anything useful here, and I think my family has worried enough.
So I prepare to bid Lebanon farewell. I wonder when I will get to walk the streets of Beirut again and under what circumstances. Hopefully, it will be a Beirut thriving in peace. The last heavy explosions I heard was sometime after nightfall last night. I think it was the attack on the alleged Hizballah leadership bunker in the southern suburbs. It must have been some serious firepower to make my building shake like that, considering the distance between me and the target.
There is actually some activity in the streets today. Constant hammering is echoing in the corridors of the AUB dorms; it would seem the renovation that was put to a halt last week has been resumed. More cars are in the streets, and even a few of the restaurants that closed have reopened. I would probably be optimistic if it weren’t for the activities outside my window, where helicopters and ships are involved in a massive evacuation effort of foreign nationals.
How ironic that the efforts to actually save people can make me so depressed. I guess it is because there is no sign of either Hizballah or Israel backing down from their original demands for accepting a ceasefire. Against that backdrop, the evacuation almost feels like a clearing of the field before the final showdown. Like in the old Western movies, where the main street would clear out at high noon; people scurrying off to safety in just in time before the shootout. It is ominous and very, very depressing. What will happen once the foreigners are out? I fear for the future of the people of Lebanon and this troubled nation-state, as well as the future for the region. I think I will have even more trouble sleeping once I have left Lebanese soil.