Monday, July 24, 2006

Iraq Dispatches: War

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
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July 22, 2006


War savages everything.

As Lebanon bleeds and the humanitarian crisis there deepens among the craters left by Israeli bombs, -mostlythose who can have fled to Syria.

Not long ago at the northern border of Lebanon, streams of people, wary with the aimless stare generated by living in terror for days on end,shuffled across into Syria.

Pushing wheelbarrows full of what belongings they managed to get out, they had come from all parts of Lebanon; from the northern coastal city of Tripoli, down the coast a short ways to Batroun and the once beautiful city of Byblos where I once shared tea with my cousins in Lebanon-who we have yet to hear a word from since Israel's war of aggression against the Lebanese began.

Most were, of course, from Beirut. The rest, including cars with luggage strapped atop them,came from the ravaged lands of southern Lebanon-the cities of Sidon,
Tyre, Marjeyun and so many villages closer to the southern border.

Over 140,000 refugees from Lebanon have now crossed through border posts into Syria. As the UN impotently urges a cease fire from war-mongering Israel, backed by their greatest enabling ally, the veto-wielding US, two of their personnel in Tyre were killed by an Israeli air strike.

"They [Israelis] are taking it out on the people who are not Hezbollah," an American man told me while fleeing with his mother. They had been vacationing in Beirut with family members there. "This is a catastrophe, their bombs are falling everywhere," the 25 year-old social studies teacher added while wiping sweat from his forehead inside the sweltering border crossing, "They are destroying all of Lebanon!"

With the death toll in Lebanon now well over 350, over one third of them are children, who would have taken part in creating the future of Lebanon.

After interviewing several refugees, my interpreter Abu Talat and I made our way to a taxi to head further north up the coast of Syria. Our taxi driver, Abdo al-Hamre, a 32 year-old farmer told us he'd been driving refugees from the border for

"I'm crying every day now for the Lebanese," he said strongly, "All of them are crying in my car as I drive. This is really too much to bear."

War stops everything. War kills a country-whether it be those dropping the bombs, or those being shredded by them. Countries who wage war, like Israel now in Lebanon, or the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, make the choice to sell their soul…perhaps a payment nearly as great as those whose lives are extinguished by the aggression waged against them.

War stops everything. School, food deliveries, public transportation, picnics, dancing, kite flying, laughing with loved ones, everything is stopped as the struggle to remain alive becomes paramount.

At that point, nothing else matters. Only to remain alive. Humans are reduced to the level of basic survival, for there is no room for anything else.

Earlier today we were at the Red Crescent headquarters in Damascas interviewing refugees. An old man, holding his head in his hands, had just arrived after fleeing his village in southern Lebanon.

We began to talk and I asked him if the Israeli plan of bombing the Lebanese in order to force them to pressure Hezbollah out of the south of their country was working. Was it turning the Lebanese against Hezbollah?

He promptly stood up, forcing me to step back.

"More Lebanese are now with Hezbollah than ever before," he yelled while pointing to the sky as his eyes widened in fury, "God damned the Israelis for destroying Lebanon! They will never destroy our spirit! The resistance is an idea, and you can never kill off an idea!"

He was mad with rage. And why shouldn't he have been?

But this man, who should be perhaps tending a field, playing with his grandchildren, sharing meals with his wife as the sun set, was raging at a journalist in Damascas because everything he knew is now smoldering rubble.

War stops life. War stops everything.

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

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