'Let the world save us from this aggression'

LAKE QARASOUN, Lebanon - Fleeing the Israeli warplanes and artillery that turned their villages into ghost towns, hundreds of Lebanese families are scattered under the trees at campsites. 'Let the world have mercy upon us and save us from this aggression,' Noor el- Hirshi said from Lake Qarasoun, a lush and tranquil place of orange groves and olive trees. 'Let them come and see what has become of us.'

The 24-year-old woman fled from her home in Sohmor on Sunday, piling into a truck with 25 relatives after Israel launched its mightiest offensive in Lebanon since its 1982 invasion.

Like the tens of thousands of other Lebanese who fled their homes this week, the Hirshi family brought little except a few easy-to-grab necessities like cooking pots and blankets.

Rabia Kamar, 16, also from Sohmor, said her mother told her that sleeping on the ground at Lake Qarasoun was cheaper than seeking shelter in another village. In a country whose economy has been ravaged by years of wars waged by Lebanese and foreigners, there is seldom such a thing as free sanctuary. Moving in with relatives - assuming they have safer space to share - usually means contributing money for meals.

'My 65-year-old father is sick and needs to lie down on a proper mattress because of his back pain,' Rabia said. Instead, he's sleeping on a blanket on the ground. Sohmor was among the first villages bombed in more than 100 air raids Israel carried out since Sunday.

Around Lake Qarasoun, refugees camping on the grass or in their cars and trucks seemed cut off from the world, knowing little except the booms of artillery and the Israeli planes. Those who brought transistor radios rationed their listening time for fear the batteries would run out before the shooting does. Most were Shias from Sohmor and other villages near the front line with Israel's self- designated 'security zone'.

About 20,000 civilians lived in that swathe of villages, home to some of the leaders and fighters of the Iranian-backed Hizbollah. Forty-eight hours after the start of Israel's offensive, the villages were deserted. Virtually all the residents had fled, many so fast that they left their doors standing open.

Further west, Nabatiyeh and surrounding villages were taking the heaviest pounding. Nabatiyeh, with a population of 35,000, is a stronghold for Amal, a Syrian-backed Shia group. On Monday, the second day of Israel's offensive, many people vowed to stay. By yesterday, reporters estimated that 85 per cent of the 75,000 people living in Nabatiyeh and nearby towns had fled.

Ali Badreddine, 38, of nearby Jibsheet, drove his family to Sidon when the raids began. 'The government says it supports the resistance against the occupiers and still they don't build us bomb shelters,' he said. 'There is no single shelter in the whole region. Every time since 1985, when Jibsheet is bombarded, I drive my family three or four hours to Beirut or to a mosque in Sidon.'

(Graphic omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas