Shortly after the conclusion of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, a 34-day affair that dispensed with approximately 1,200 (mainly civilian) lives in the latter country, my friend and I embarked on a hitchhiking trip through the rubble. One of our stops was the town of Bint Jbeil, located 2.5 miles from the Israeli border and known as the “capital of the Resistance.” A former focal point of the Hezbollah-managed struggle against Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon, which was forcibly terminated in May of 2000, Bint Jbeil was savagely attacked by Israeli forces in 2006, partly as payback. Much of the town now lay in ruin.
The destruction of property, not to mention friends and loved ones, had somehow not interfered with the south Lebanese capacity for hospitality, and my companion and I were quickly ushered into one family’s living room for coffee. This particular family of five had spent the first 10 days of the war in a basement with a multitude of relatives and neighbors before fleeing northward in a convoy of white flag-waving vehicles, the last of which was pulverized by an Israeli missile.
Thanks to this experience, our hosts’ four-year-old daughter now panicked at the slightest sound. She nonetheless appeared more resilient than my friend and me: After learning that there was a two-foot-long unexploded Israeli aerial bomb lying in the unoccupied house next door, we spent the rest of our visit hyperventilating.
During the 2006 war, the Israeli military saturated south Lebanese homes, yards, and fields with up to 4.6 million cluster bombs, a good percentage of which failed to detonate on impact and thus continue to maim and kill to this day. One of Israel’s excuses for such behavior was that Hezbollah was using south Lebanese civilians as human shields, storing weaponry in area homes and launching rockets from civilian areas. Expanding on the Israeli fabrication that much of Hezbollah’s arsenal was located under civilian beds, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reasoned: “When you go to sleep with a missile, … you might find yourself waking up to another kind of missile.” READ MORE AT IN THESE TIMES.