I have developed an obsession with the Lebanese civil war over the last 7 years. I had vague memories of the war when I was a child; I used to hear words like: militias, snipers, identity killings, black Saturday, PLO, airplane high jacking…but I never understood what it was all about.
I first visited Lebanon in 1998; the war was well over, except for the occupied south back then. I entered the country via the Syrian border, and as we drove though meadows and hills, my Syrian driver would occasionally point at a destroyed building and say “A great battle took place here…some 100 Syrian soldiers were killed”, “this destruction was caused by Israeli air raids in 1982” my fascination started. As we approached Beirut…devastating destruction was more and more evident. Bullet holes everywhere…
Me: I’m surprised these buildings are still standing…some of them look like Swiss cheese, and they are still occupied by tenets!?!?!?
Driver: Ohhh yeah, they are managing, where would they go my friend? Look at the bright side, It’s a great ventilation system (laughing); You know, the Lebanese have developed the ability to recognize ammunition type by looking at the size of the hole…RPG, 20 ml, 40ml…artillery shell (laughing again).
Me: (silent…staring out the window)
Reaching the outskirts of Beirut….
Driver: My friend…this is the red line….
Me: (What red line?? I don’t see any redlines…but the amount of destruction has increased drastically…it looks like a war scene…wait…it is a war scene) what do you mean red line??
Driver: Basically…Beirut was divided by this street, west Beirut (Muslim) on our right…East Beirut (Christian) on our left…my friend…this is “no mans land”, not a living soul has walked this ground for 15 years….only snipers occupying buildings on both side of the street.
Me: Snipers??? (This is getting interesting) I’m sure there is a story behind every bullet hole…anger, hatred, tears, despair, hope…death.
Driver: …(silent)…yeah I guess, that’s another way to look at it.
Me: (that’s the only way to look at it)
Driver: HEEY…look to your right…this is Shateela refugee camp, more than 1,500 unarmed Palestinian women and children were raped and killed here overnight…heartbreaking.
Me: (Sabra & Shateela…memories are revived …massacre….I can almost smell the rotten corpses…dry blood stains on the walls….death is still infused in the air)…can we speed up…how far is the hotel??
Driver: We are almost there…
Ever since that day, I decided to take on the task of finding out the truth about this war…parties involved, events, individuals, causes and effects…I must say that I learned some of the greatest lessons in life from this war, so much for us to learn…unfortunately nobody seems to care, everyone wants to bury the past…specially the Lebanese people themselves…I want to resurrect.
Picture that speak a thousand words: