We heard on the news that the Israelis had yet again bombed the south Beirut district of Dhayiya. After trying in vain to persuade numerous cab drivers to take us there we eventually secure a lift. Soon after we arrive we realised our mistake. We have landed in an area, without first seeking permission from Hizbollah. The fact that there was no checkpoint or local cordon is no excuse. We are now in a ghost town with around a kilometre to walk out, and on our own. The driver has left at considerable speed.
Looking at the devastation the obvious question is, why? This area is deserted and has been for a while. You can almost taste the silence. No cars, no birds singing, no people anywhere. We photograph and film the latest Israeli ‘strike against Hizbollah’; a deserted block has been demolished. Exactly what was the point of this? Are the Israelis being given free bombs by the USA for target practice? Or they just making sure that Lebanon’s capital city gets bombed every day so everyone knows that the war is not just happening in the south? A bombing propaganda to make the headlines on all the wires? Whatever the reason, the eerie silence is punctuated by occasional sounds from the shadows that tell us that the people may have fled but this is still a base of resistance; and we are being watched. Two teenagers appear on a scooter and a brief political conversation takes place. They get their info and speed off. We start to make our way out and as we speed-walk through the deserted main street an elderly man appears in the distance. He makes a gesture to us; it says (with some urgency) ‘Leave now!’ We do.
As we reach the edge of the district we are relieved to say the least. We have not been detained and a passing cab is a godsend. The driver tells us that he wants a ceasefire like everyone else. He is saddened by the carnage but as determined as everyone else that not an inch will be given to the invaders. Heading back into the city we drive through the neighbouring district where thousands of refugees from Dhayiya are staying. The determination on their faces is plain to see. They may have lost their homes but they are undefeated. These people have been through much over the years and this is just another hurdle to jump.
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