Lebanon and Israel: The blogs of war

Trapped in their homes, isolated from their loved ones and powerless to change the course of an escalating conflict, the people of Lebanon and Israel are struggling to maintain some semblance of their normal lives and make sense of the tragedy unfolding around them. For thousands, communication with the outside world through the internet has become a vital lifeline. Their journals are personal, passionate - and deeply poignant
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9 August 2006, posted by From Gaza

At Al-Awda hospital in Jabalia camp I met with the medical staff who were exhausted after continuous emergency work during the incursion. Many injured arrived to the hospital and the staff worked round the clock. There were massive casualties. The three operating rooms were also working round the clock. Those hurt had serious injuries in the abdomen and chest. There were a good number of children in that attack who I visited while they were recovering in the hospital.

The staff's main concerns were the electricity, having fuel to run the generators, and vital medications for the operating room.

The small girl held my hand and said: look there, we were in the sun for a long period, next to the donkey place. It was hot, I was thirsty, my baby brother was crying, and I was terrified, I wet my pants.


12 July 2006, posted by Gailing

"My name is Jihad Mohammad El-Saloul. I'm 49 years old, and work as a teacher. I'm a neighbor of Dr Nabil Abu Salmeya.

Today at approximately 2.45 in the morning, I heard a small explosion. My wife, our children and I woke up. I thought it was a sound bomb. My children were standing near the window. After about 10 minutes I heard a second explosion. The glass fell over our heads. I got out of the house to see what happened. One of our neighbors is Ahmad Bahar "Abu Akram", a political leader in Hamas. I thought the explosion was in his home. As I walked, I was surprised that the explosion was in Dr Nabil Abu Salmeya's house...

We found Abu Salmeya's son Ahmad, who studies engineering at university. He was injured in the face. He was in pain, and was standing on the balcony of the bombed house. He was calling us. We took him to an ambulance.

After that I saw a girl, Abu Salmeya's daughter, who was about 17. She was handicapped. Her body was thrown on the ground, between the trees in the garden.

Then we found the body of his son, Yehya, who is in the fourth grade. It was a headless body. We found the head in the hallway of a neighbour's house. I knew Yehya and the girl well.

Then I found another son. He was dead on the ground.

Then we found the body of the mother. He leg was torn off.

Then we found two arms of a man among the trees.


26 July 2006, posted by Fairy

What you are seeing on the news are the worst pictures that the media can show. It is terrible what's happening to our country, to its people. But I want to ask you not to panic on my behalf (for example on the phone or MSN) because it will make me feel even worse. I have decided not to leave (for now) because I am not ready for it. I don't have the heart to leave tomorrow with the next boat. I just can't. But I know that, if the situation doesn't get better, I will have to leave soon anyway.

Everybody here is suffering from this horrible war that came overnight, but fortunately we (I am speaking for me and the people in my life) have the chance to still have enough food, a house, a bed, electricity, internet and phones. We are not being bombed for now (at least not directly). We are living, not only surviving, although it's a huge mental challenge. I am thanking the universe for this every day.

Pat... I did wash the dishes today :-P and I went to do some errands and took one photo (I'm still not very much inspired, but I'm trying my best).

My emotional ups and downs are extreme though, my mood changes at least three times a day, which is very tiring for me and the people I'm in contact with. I apologise for that.

For now that's all I have to say. Stay safe and keep posted.


8 August 2006, posted by Bob

War times are here... People have reverted to their wartime routine, waiting for long hours to get a few litres of fuel for their cars, and buying the rest from the black market at double or triple the official price. Alternate roads and makeshift bridge crisscross the torn roads of my country, allowing access to even the most dangerous and cut-off locations. My commuting time that ran for 30 or 45 minutes takes almost two hours these days, while home rents in "safe" areas have doubled and one must be very lucky indeed to find even an attic to rent in some of the "safest" areas.

Yet people are trying to bring a semblance of normality even to the most nightmarish of realities. The collective taxis, called "service", are still running, even in the most dangerous of places, albeit at a higher price per trip, and most grocers are still working, although most imported goods are hard to get. Even some pubs are open, and some "experts" are saying that alcohol and tranquiliser consumption have hit some new records. People have shifted their lifestyles to endure what seems to be a very long war.


23 July 2006, posted by Mominisrael

Last night a friend stopped by. She is collecting money for www.levuneshama.org, an organisation providing food and other necessities for families in Safed. She says that the situation there is unbearable; many houses have been destroyed and families are going hungry. She is friendly with the founders of the organisation and 100% of the funds go to the needy families.

It was a little crazy at our house: my oldest son came back from his camp, just in time to do his laundry before Rosh Chodesh, and the other kids were excited to see him; my older daughter was making another batch of play clay for "Mexico Day" in our day camp today; my second son was objecting to our request to turning off the music; and my two-year-old was running around happily after several failed attempts at bedtime. My friend, bless her heart, said, "It's such a pleasure to come into a house where everyone is healthy." Her own husband has a chronic illness. And whenever I feel like complaining I remember to be grateful as well that we don't have rockets (yet) raining down on our house.

Anyway, I'm off to cook some tortillas and make some sombreros now. Adios, amigos!!


9 August 2006, posted by Fairy

I am so sorry to have left so many loved ones behind. I am so sorry Beirut, to have turned my back on you in these horrible days! I am so sorry people that I'm not able to write down any positive words.

Today around late afternoon I slowly started to realise where I was. It's raining here and I'm freezing. People seem cold and introverted. I walked through the streets of Vienna and couldn't feel any connection anymore to this town that I lived in for seven years. I guess I never felt home here anyway...

I'm tired, my eyes are closing but my mind is awake. When I close my eyes I see the streets of Beirut and I feel the heat of the summer, I hear the familiar noises and I feel this unique familiar feeling that only Beirut is able to give me.

Oh, I'm getting pathetic.I should go to sleep.

There truly is no honey on the moon these days.


8 August 2006, posted by John

I can't believe what I'm hearing. No, this is not a post about another turn that this war is taking. I just heard a soldier call into Galgalatz (Israel Army Radio with pop music) and request the Elton John's Lion King theme song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" for his comrades fighting in the north. And this is a soldier from one of the more "macho" brigades (Golani).


30 July 2006, posted by Not a Fish

The son of close friends of Our Sis has been badly wounded in battle. I remember him when he was about three years old. That was, like, yesterday.

Two people who work closely with Bish were called up for reserve duty today. One of them is getting married next week. The other is already married, with children (and tickets for the Depeche Mode concert this week). Someone from Bish's evening classes, a woman, was also called up. I guess there's more, but I haven't been speaking to anyone. Suddenly everyone seems to have a son or two or three in the army.

Bish doesn't do reserve duty any more. Too old. Too asthmatic. RT is also out of this war. Last time in Lebanon he went in with the very first tank convoys. And we didn't see him or hear from him for a while (no cell phones back then).


4 August 2006, posted by Urshalim

Yesterday I went to Halat (to the north of Beirut) to check on some friends. On my way back, while passing by Casino du Liban, one of the bridges connecting Jounieh with the north of Lebanon became visible. For an instant I thought oooff, this is still standing. I thought of the other bridges I crossed over from Beirut to Halat and back. I got worried but I just shrugged it off. No way will these bridges be hit. Casino du Liban, Halat, Jounieh, Ghazir are all under the protection of "The Lady of Harissa" and "the Deman", the seat of Cardinal Nassrallah Sfeir, Patriarch of the Christian Maronites in Lebanon. I looked up and there was the Lady and the seat up the mountain looking down at me crossing through Jounieh.

I said to myself, "Man, up there must be the safest place in Lebanon today."

They won't dare bomb there or down here for that matter.

I was wrong. Four of the bridges I crossed yesterday were destroyed last night.


3 August 2006, posted by rockofgalilee

Today is Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. This is a day of hopelessness, a day when all we can do is cry. This is the day that the gates of prayer are closed, and God gives us the cold shoulder.

This year we have been feeling the ninth of Av more then usual.


12 July 2006, posted by Simply Rinat

Israeli summer time.

I started writing a post. I'm tense. I erased it. I'm too fucking tense. Three full paragraphs and I just entered DEL. Don't want to regret my words.

Summer 2005, a year ago. Disengagement and hopes of peace.

Summer 2006, now. Entering Lebanon and a declaration of war.

Summer 2005, boiling under Gaza sun.

Summer 2006, boiling under Gaza and Lebanon sun.

Summer 2005, soldiers in their compulsory army service at the pullout.

Summer 2006, soldiers in their compulsory army service struggle in Gaza and reserve units are about to be drafted. To Lebanon.

Hope I'm sleeping, this is a nightmare and I'm gonna wake up soon. *%$#@*!!!


2 August 2006, posted by Zena

Just got home... was driving like crazy... word on the street is that Israel is threatening to hit Beirut now... I feel so helpless... I called Maya, she said that if she dies today that I could keep her DVDs that I'm borrowing... I told her the same thing.

I called my husband and told him to come home. If I die, I want to be in his arms...

My little brother is here with me. He is 20 years old. He is making some tea now. He believes it is going to be OK. We are supposed to be discussing a plan he has to make T-shirts with slogans on them to raise money for the relief shelter he is volunteering at.

This could be my last entry... maybe.

I have thought of that every time I put up an entry... but today, I am writing it with real fear in my heart. The violence continues... the hating continues.

How can we stop this? Please help to stop this.

I am only 30 years old. I have not had children. I want children. I want to live. I want to grow old with my husband... I want my children to play with my friends' children... Simple things, I want.


9 August 2006, posted by Slightly Mad

I found the best way to spend 2.5 hours not thinking about the war. I'd been waiting for a while (ooh, a few decades) for the Man of Steel to return to the big screen, having been only mildly satiated by Lois and Clark (and even a dose of Smallville here and there, but please, don't tell anyone) in between, but this was worth the wait on so many levels - whatever some of those bitter fanboys say.


4 August 2006, posted by Manamania

Starting from 1am and up until now, we've had some serious bombing in the area. I woke up several times to the sound of a launch and then a huge startling THOOOOOMP. The jet can still be heard, along with a high-pitched buzz that had puzzled me for days, but I am not sure it's one of those drones I keep hearing about.

Yawn! What a night.


25 July 2006, posted by Live from an Israeli bunker

We had 10 sirens today, and finally a new instruction came to stay at least 15 minutes down there after a siren. We are spending more and more time down there. And some of you asked what it's like. Well this is from the last time: we are down there and after 10 minutes another siren hits, so this means that we'll spend at least 25 minutes down there. The radio puts on a song to pass the time, it's "I Want to Be Loved by You", Marilyn Monroe singing in 1959 from a wonderful movie called Some Like it Hot.

Anyway, the scene was to me at least, surreal. Just imagine: "I wanna be loved by you, just you", somewhere three dozen miles away two rockets are inbound, "And nobody else but you", in your mind's eye you're flying behind them, seeing the green valleys of south Lebanon below you, "I wanna be loved by you, alone!", you're passing over Israeli troops now, seeing them building up in a few locations, " Boop-boop-de-boop!", you for a second glimpse a dozen special ops soldiers moving bent over on the ground unaware that behind the next hill there are three Hizbollah terrorists, but you're not going to see the outcome of that because you're moving on, "I wanna be kissed by you, just you", you're over the border now passing over Israeli towns, " Nobody else but you", you notice a mushroom cloud here and there from where other rocket has hit, "I wanna be kissed by you, alone!", in the distance you hear the sirens winding down, "I couldn't aspire" , the rocket is half way there and runs out of fuel, "To anything higher ", it's silent now, you hear nothing but keep on flying, " Than, to feel the desire", down in the bunker people listening to the song smile, it's not so bad we'll pull thru, "To make you my own!" , the rocket slows and its arc points downwards, then you start to hear a whistle, there's Haifa now, you can see the bay and the sunlight reflecting from the sea, "Ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-doodly-dum-boo", darkness.


7 August 2006, posted by Lisa Goldman

Okay, I'm in Metulla, right on the border. The barrages are pretty much constant and we had six sirens between 11am and noon. I was in the dining room of the hotel where a lot of journalists are gathered (WiFi and coffee), waiting for things to calm down and recorded the segment below: A siren goes off, and everyone's so used to hearing them that they don't even move or react. Going to Kiryat Shmona now. More later...


2 August 2006, posted by Hopeful Beirut

I should have posted this yesterday. Then the wave of enthusiasm would still be appropriate. Today, new actions that will inevitably lead to new consequences have sprung into action, probably making this post obsolete.

Yesterday, I went to Beirut for the first time in 20 days. I have never been away for so long and I was eager to greet the city, like a long-lost lover. I got into my car, turned off the radio, and rolled down the windows, anxious to listen to the sounds of the city. Since the beginning of the invasion, I had been cooped up in my safe haven, in a little village in the mountains, where the noise and the action of Beirut seem far away. I never meant to stay away that long, but fuel shortages have a way of getting to the most adventurous among us.

So yesterday, I started my descent to Antelias, then Dora, then Downtown, finally arriving at Hamra, and I can honestly say that I have never welcomed this assault on my senses with more happiness!

I rolled down the window and let all the sounds sink in. Yes, Beirut is OK, we will survive! People are resilient, honking their horns, changing lanes without warning, and rushing about their day.

HONK! honk! HONK!


4 August 2006, posted by Glass Garden

Beirut is now cut off from the north. Our lives are now valueless, our safety of no concern to anyone at all and there seem to be no rules as to how this game is played. We want no part of this, yet we are held hostage in our villages, in our cities, in our homes, in our country because we are the sacrificial lamb of this "noble" war on terror. I don't know how much longer the world will stand by and watch, I don't know how many more human and environmental catastrophes it will take until someone says, " Enough". If I live to see this end, I am leaving Lebanon, I do not want to return.

I never again want to expose myself to this kind of terror, I never want to hear another bomb explode, I never want to feel so worthless again, I never want to be in a place where someone can freely strip me of my most basic human rights, of my freedom and of my dignity whenever and however they please. I love Lebanon with all my heart, I decided to stay when I could have left weeks ago telling my husband (who is abroad) this will not carry on long enough for me to move away. I love my life here, my family that I could finally be close to after spending 21 years in another country to escape the horrors of the civil war. I do not want to lose my home and I am not a coward. But this is no way to live, I can't raise a family here, I can't invest in a future, I can't trust that things will ever be "OK", it's a risk, a gamble; it's as senseless an act as trying to build a house of sand on water. I have to leave Lebanon simply because it shares a border with Israel and that is like sitting on a ticking time bomb. How sad.