In Mleeta, a day with Hezbollah
Corrias, owner of
Chasing the Unexpected Hezbollah
It’s 1978, only thirty years after the Israeli militia has occupied
Palestine, when the same military forces launch a new campaign and
occupy Lebanon. Only here they didn’t find defenceless farmers who had
no idea of what was going on, they found an entire population unnerved,
uncomfortable and worried about the ongoing occupation next door.
Lebanese have witnessed first-hand the calamity fell upon the
Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of refugees had arrived in the
country after the Nakba of 1948, the tragedy that brought to the
creation of the State of Israel. With all this in mind, Lebanese had no
intention of letting their country become the “new Palestine”, no
Lebanese was willing to lead the same life Palestinians were leading in
their refugee camps.
Men and women whose only purpose in life was setting their country free
fought with any means against the foreign occupiers, young men and
fathers sacrificed their life only to make Israelis leave. Martyrs such
as that little more than a kid who blew himself up in the headquarter of
Israeli commando in Tyre, determining their withdrawal from the city,
his eyes still watching over the empty ground where from that day
nothing has been built. Every single person had a role in what to the
world seemed an impossible task.
Feelings, emotions, details, battles, names that only locals can know made me realize how biased and distorted our mainstream media and education system are. I understand every country has its fair share of censorship, but creating false enemies has the only result of making people live out of fear, and as far as Europe is concerned, it’s fear of our own neighbours, friend countries and important commercial partners.
The occupation ended in 2000, and after 22 years of fighting, war strategies and bombings, the foreign army was forced out. Only in the shelling on Abassiyeh, in 1978, 400 people lost their lives, in Cana in 1996 more than a hundred. When the region was still wounded and struggling for reconstruction, in 2006 Israeli bombings started all over again: “They bombed with no mercy,” remembers my friend Leila who at the time was 14. “A hundred bombings every hour, in some villages, from Cana to the deep South, they bombed every single house, 1400 people were killed in 33 days, thousands heavily injured.” Leila and her family lived in the United States and moved back to their hometown in 2004, to find themselves at war only two years later. “I know it’s a horrible thing to say,” goes on Salam, Leila’s sister, “but every time we saw an Israeli airplane we just hoped to hear the bomb, because it would have meant it hadn’t fallen on us.” They escaped by car towards the North that was less hit, to a city that today takes an hour to reach, and seven during the war. When they got back they saw their house was not bombed, but their neighbours’ was.
To visit the landmark of Lebanese resistance, we had to get closer to
the border with Occupied Palestine, up to Mount A’mel, in Mleeta, small
village resting at 1060 meters above sea level, that apart from housing
the tombs of prophets, saints and kings of the past, has also been
Hezbollah stronghold during the occupation.
I admit, more than once I felt a sense of unease. I’m not familiar with
war talk, even less with war equipment. I despise anything military, any
war threat fills me with dismay, and I’ve never bought the myth that war
was necessary as it never is, but passing through that pathway, crossing
the tunnel used as shelter, and picturing the kind of life those kids
(because they were hardly older than that) led just because they wanted
to defend their inalienable right to live in their own country with no
foreign occupation, made me share their feelings.
Israel is still occupying the Shebaa Farms in Lebanon, but no settlement
has been built as Hezbollah will never let that happen.