Monday, July 17, 2006

Dry Tears

Sunday evening, July 16, 2006

It was getting late. The Econet TV cable wasn't working so I couldn't see the news. I might as well sleep. I decided to call a friend (Tony) to see how he's doing before going to sleep. In the conversation he spoke of the latest news -- which included bombings "near Zahle." My family, I told him. Damn Econet.

I tried to call my family. The lines wouldn't connect. I tried again. Still busy. Tony called me. Call their land line, he suggested. Ah, yes, in the small panic of the moment I had forgotten about the land line and was focusing only on the mobile number. I called and got through. They told me of the bombings in Jalala. More bombings on the main roadway. A construction facility was bombed -- leading to lots of fire due to the bombardment of paints. They bombed Ali Nahri, close to Ri'yaq. And intensive bombardment on Ba'albeck. They are not sure of the number of martyrs or the number of wounded. As she spoke, I thought of my young nephew who gets so scared from the sound of the bombings. As she spoke, I cursed the moment I decided to leave El Mreijat and come to my apartment in El Koura in the North.

I couldn't sleep. It sounds like planes overhead.

Monday July 17

7 am
I wake up to news that the port in Tripoli has been bombed.
I wake up to news that bombing in El Beqaa had continued until 4 am. My family opened their windows all night, to prevent the windows from being broken by the intensity of the blast, and stayed up listening, helplessly, to the bombardment.

9.15 am
I receive an email from a Lebanese woman in Australia. She is frantic about her family (Lebanese-Australians) in Aytaroun, beside Bint J'beil in the South. Her father, mother, and sister. She writes, "They are petrified and tense and are desperate for help. I don't know what to do for them and becoming extremely desperate myself. This is a hurtful, sad and dreadful situation and would be very grateful if you could give me any advice/suggestions on how I may be able to assist them. Any advice to them would be appreciated more than you know. Should they be doing anything? Calling anyone to let them know they want to be rescued? I'm extremely lost and pray you can help me help them. My mother is blind and requires additional care and solace at this time. My sister is her primary carer and she is in a very shaken, unstable and desperate state herself."

What can I do? I call the UN. “How can they leave Aytaroun?” I ask. “Difficult question,” he responds. “Call UNIFIL.”

I call UNIFIL. I am led from one person to another to another, repeating the story to each of them. The third individual to states calmly that Aytaroun is one of the areas that Israel has specifically warned about; Israel has specifically stated that all vehicular movement in this area will be regarded as hostile. Tell them to stay home, he says. Tell them to stay home. Close the windows and stay home. But, their home isn't safe, I ask. Yes, but the roads are more dangerous, he replies.

I call the besieged family.
"How are you," I ask. "Your sister is worried about you."
"We are on the road, we are moving."
"No. No. Stay home. Go back home. The roads are not safe. The roads are not safe."
"Too late," she says in hysterical tears. "Too late. We are on the road. We're going to a Christian village. My mobile is running out of batteries."

I hang up and cry dry tears.

Christian village. Muslim village. There is no difference for Israel. The terrorist army has been bombing all villages, Christian and Muslim.

I watch the minutes pass, and hope and hope.

10.30 am:
New TV reports: Southern Saidi is under bombardment. The Israeli planes have not left the skies in the South for one moment.
"How can these families leave the area?" the anchor asks the correspondent in the South.
"They take side roads, agricultural roads," he responds. "Nevertheless, you can easily see the horror and fear on their faces. They have seen a lot of bombardment and direct hits on ambulances. They are all worried of direct hits on their cars. Some of them are flying white flags on their cars"

A commentator on the TV says that when Israel was not punished for the massacre in Qana, and for the other numerous massacres, Israel got emboldened.

We all worry over that emboldenment

11.06 am:
I finally reach the Australian family. They are safe. Actually, they are safer. They’ve reached Sour/Tyre. They are on a road with thousands of other cars. They are being directed to side roads, away from the main roads.

As I write these words, the Israeli Offensive Army is renewing its bombardment of the southern district of Beirut.
As I write these words, hundreds of thousands of families are fleeing north.

I wish I could cry.


The time now is 11.39 pm on this Monday evening. I've lost track of the days and the hours.

I bave been interviewed several times by US radio stations (WBAI, Democracy Now, and Uprising - for the readers in the US) and by the Associated Press today. I want to stress again: To stop this violence, to stop this aggression, the Israeli Army needs to stop its attacks on Lebanon.

- Rania Masri, El Koura, Lebanon


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