This was yet another violent week here in Lebanon. In addition to the military action, taking place in the North between the Lebanese Army and the militants, and the almost regular explosions taking place around the country, this week was marred by another assassination. A terrorist car bomb explosion took away the lives of Member of Parliament, Walid Eido, his son, his bodyguard and seven civilians who happened to be at the scene of the crime – in addition to around 10 injuries. As a result, a gloomy atmosphere looms over most blogs. Some wrote before the assassination about how the Lebanese were coping with the anxiety of expected explosions and/or war, while others happened to be at the site of the car bomb explosion during the blast and survived to share their experiences. Included in this summary are posts on the political, social and educational repercussions of the violence and explosions as well as tributes to the innocent civilians killed in the blasts and violence.
I will start this weblog with this drawing that Amal posted four days ago and which she titled “Death”:
Bloggers who were at the site of the explosion:
Two bloggers were at a café very close to the site of the explosion that targeted MP Eido. Both wrote about their experience. Photo Beirut said:
However, we were very very close to the bomb that just went off in Beirut late this afternoon, which killed the MP Walid Eido (a member of Hariri's coalition) and his son and two bodyguards as well as at least 6 others. Waleed and I were walking into the outdoor al-Rawda cafe on the seafront with some friends and were approaching a table next to the water when the massive explosion happened.
And Charles Malik was also there. His account of the explosion was mentioned in yesterday's roundups. He mentioned that: “Children were playing on the equipment under the setting sun. Mothers were holding their babies. Old men were smoking argile.” Then “BOOM!!!”
Bloggers who were very close:
In addition to being on the site during the explosion, other bloggers were very close to the explosions and also wrote about their experience and reflections. MFL reflected on the new found anxiety and fear that have become part of our lives:
As I speak, 20 minutes ago my house's foundation shook. I do not know who of my friends are down there (because my friends are meeting there today at this time). But I write, a car loaded with explosives blew up into kingdom, wounding 10 people and five people killed (and I hope the ones I know are not among them).
This is our new trend of life. Worry at every car parked, worrying if this car is loaded with explosives or not. Fear has locked most of the people in their houses, and citizens are dying.
Sietske In Beiroet also heard the blast while on her balcony and went down to the scene. In her photo–report, she takes us, step by step, through the “rather predictable” stages of what goes on when a blast of this type takes place:
Just as I got home, about to sit on that infamous balcony of mine, the house shook with that now familiar and rather powerful BANG BANG. I don’t know if it is the echo of an explosion that gives you the double-bang, or whether it was a double explosion, but whatever it was, it was pretty massive. The windows bent in and out, literally. But since they were all open, nothing broke.
Outside the familiar shattering of glass indicated however that this bomb was indeed pretty close.
Marcy Newman, who is campaigning for the relief of the refugees caught in the fighting in the North also posted about the car bomb in addition to her posts on the relief efforts. The blast occurred near her home just as she was about to reach it, after returning from the North.
Blogging Beirut posted images from the site with satellite images of Beirut and the location of the blast.
Blogging about the consequences:
Weazls Revenge writes on the fears that this murder and that the fighting in the North may break the fragile religious balance and lead to a new civil war:
The slaying was likely to further inflame Lebanon’s bitter power struggle between Saniora’s Western-backed government and its Syrian-backed opponents, led by the Hezbollah militant group. Many fear the violence could push the polarized nation with a fragile balance of ethnic and religious groups into a new civil war.
Wednesday’s blast also came as Lebanon is dealing with a separate conflict that threatens to spiral out of control: a nearly four-week battle with al-Qaida-inspired militants barricaded inside a Palestinian refugee camp near the northern city of Tripoli. More than 140 people have been killed in the Lebanese army’s siege of the Nahr el-Bared camp.
Green Resistance adds to the fears above, the fear of an increase in what she terms the racist attacks against Palestinians and Syrians:
What will happen? What will be the consequences of this latest bout of violence?
A legal expert – O. N. – expressed worry that the government would respond with an imposition of emergency law and a suspension of constitutional laws. (What difference would that be, I quipped.) Perhaps. A more likely consequence is an increase in racism targeted against whomever is deemed as ‘the other’ – which, in this case, would be the Palestinians and the Syrians; an increase in knee-jerk, irrational reactions; an increase towards polarization – and thus increased chaos.
On the innocent victims:
Among the innocent civilians killed in the car blast were two soccer players who were training at the Nejmeh soccer field near the blast site. Abu Kais dedicated a post for the players and for the other innocent victims:
Today we mourn the judge, Walid Eido, and his son the lawyer, Khaled. We mourn the policemen who lost their lives fulfilling their duties. We mourn two of our youth, who played sports and hoped for a future of hard work and reward. We mourn the innocents who went about their lives as normally as they could, but ended up slabs of human flesh on a concrete floor.
In the North, two Red Cross volunteers were also among the innocent killed when their vehicle came under mortar fire a few days ago. Golaniya also dedicated a post in their memory.
So how are the Lebanese coping with all of this?
Eyespy writes about the Lebanese attitude towards the increase in the security measures that is manifest in the increase of the military presence:
This excessive presence of the military spreading around, with tanks, and military jeeps, soldiers at guard with gear and weapon, does not fool fellow Lebanese citizens and co. that they are being protected. The Lebanese unlike any other nation do not respect their army, in fact most of the Lebanese males spent more time thinking about how to escape the military service, then the actual service time. They have a developed a strange practice towards “ the state missionaries that should protect, save and punish counter state activities, such as stealing electricity, that ranks in the same problematic frame as bombing and terrorism for examples.
Liliane noted that the school year has been cut short this year for fears of another war, civil war or maybe violence:
Usually school years in Lebanon begin late September (or early October, depending on the grade) and end mid to late June. On the other hand, this year, school and universities have closed their doors early June.
The reason behind all this rush is the fear of another war erupting this summer similar to last year's July war in 2006 that happened between Hezbollah and Israel. Moreover, a war is not necessarily what Lebanese officials are worried about, but matters such as Nahr Al Bared's which was not something to account for. They keep saying Lebanon is on the brink of another Civil War. Well in case one does happen, thank god schools have closed so early in summer so it can provide such a long bloody and disastrous summer for everybody to enjoy in their homes while watching it on TV.
Schedules of activities and events are being set taking into consideration the fears from explosions. Sietske in Beiroet discusses the new timetable and what they imply:
Some schools have taken the drastic step of starting the summer break earlier. […] Restaurants and bars in Monot and Gemayze, two popular districts, have seen their attendance drop to a virtual zero. After all, can you predict where the next one is going off?
[…] they cannot be ignored, so we organize our way around them. Graduation parties are canceled, or moved indoors. I heard from someone else the unlikely fact that house parties should end now by 11 o’clock (couldn’t verify this odd ‘party curfew’). Dinners are held earlier anyway, because we’d like to be indoors by ten if possible.
Play dates are now assessed based on the neighborhood where the play date lives, and what road needs to be taken to get there.
People monitor everything and everybody, trying to predict what might happen. A friend of ours, close to people in the government, mentioned that he had been looking for an apartment in Feraya. (Feraya is a resort town in the mountains, some 50 km above Beirut).
People go to the beaches in the city (concrete slabs around rectangular pools), rather than the sandy beaches down south and up north. What is a bomb explodes while you are at the beach? Better to be close to home.
NB: Some of the posts mentioned above were written before the assassination. More blogs than can be mentioned here are reporting, reflecting or commenting on the violence and events going on in Lebanon. Let us pray that this ends soon. Take care and hope to see you next week.