Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Dahr Jamail: "Aren't People Seeing All of This?"

"Aren't People Seeing All of This?"


By Dahr Jamail
Iraq Dispatches & Truthout.org
Monday 24 July 2006

Hundreds of Lebanese refugees languish in a city park in downtown Beirut. Fleeing southern Lebanon, as well as south Beirut, thousands have already made their way through this camp as they are farmed out to schools, abandoned buildings and anyone willing to take them in.

"Aren't people seeing all of this," asked Supinesh, a 50 year-old woman sitting with her family while children collected water from a nearby UNESCO water tank, "They should see the massacres, then they can decide who is just in this conflict."

After spending about an hour there, we decided to go see some of the damage in southern Beirut. Not wanting to go too deep into the demolished area, our driver said he could show us some of it without taking much risk. It still wasn't in the Dahaya district of Beirut, which is the area which has, according to many observers, been 75% destroyed. Thus, I felt reasonably settled inside about having a look.

The roads were mostly empty, as we drove past bomb craters and several overpasses which had been bombed. Some of them, still on the outskirts of the areas most heavily bombed, lay shattered with metal bars and chunks of blasted concrete hanging listlessly in the tense air. A hospital, blasted by shrapnel, sat empty near one of the blasted bridges.

Several building fronts were blasted by bomb shrapnel, and as we drove a little further several Hezbollah fighters were buzzing by us on scooters with M-16 assault rifles slung over their backs.

After passing by another blasted bridge we came upon several journalists running towards their cars in an area heavily damaged by bombs. Smoke languidly drifted down the street towards us from a smoldering building as journalists and their Lebanese fixers, in a panic, jumped in their cars as tires began to squeal.

"One of our spotters just told us he has seen Israeli jets coming," a panicked Hezbollah fighter on a scooter told our driver, "Get out of here now!"

We wheeled around and drove straight out of the area, managing our way through a couple of bottlenecks of cars as we all fled.

Once clear, my colleague, our driver and I decide to go have lunch and catch our breath. After a falafel sandwich and sharing a Nargeela pipe, we decided to go visit one of the main hospitals in the area.

Astoundingly, the assistant director of the Beirut Government University Hospital, Bilal Masri, told me today that there was a 30% casualty rate thus far-meaning that of all the people struck by bombs, 30% of them are killed.

"This is a higher percentage than we had during the civil war," the haggard assistant director told me while patients shuffled through the lobby of the busy hospital, one of the largest in Beirut, "And 55% of the casualties are children under 15 years of age."

So far, the official count of dead Lebanese civilians is nearing 400, with over 1,200 wounded.

Masri, himself holding US citizenship told me that his hospital was now operating with only 25% of its staff, as the rest of the employees had either been unable or unwilling to return to work.

"The Israelis are bombing everything that moves, along with cutting so many bridges and roads, so people have been unable or too scared to come back to work," he said, "So those of us who have stayed are eating, sleeping and working here 24 hours a day. I myself have barely slept in the last 13 days."

It was still sinking in that the casualty rate was so incredibly high, so I asked him how that could be.

"The Israelis are using new kinds of bombs, and these bombs can penetrate bomb shelters," he explained sternly, "They are bombing the refugees in the bomb shelters!"

Just then an irate man was yelling maniacally nearby. Several security guards went and began to escort him from the lobby of the hospital.

"My son who was wounded, was treated and now discharged, but where are we to go," he yelled, "Our home has been pulverized! We do not want to go to a city park, or a school to sleep on the ground!"

He continued pleading to anyone who would listen as he was walked outside.

Masri shook his head, not wishing to comment, as he turned back to me.

"We have kid here who don't know their parents are dead yet," he said while shaking his head. "And recently the Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the Israelis have used white phosphorous in the south."

I showed my surprise at this confirmation. Seeing this, he added, "We also have unconfirmed reports that they are dropping cluster bombs as well, along with other types of illegal weapons."

Before leaving he explained that his hospital was already beginning to run short of medicine and supplies, and thus far had had no help from any international organization.

"We are ok today, but soon we will face big problems if this situation continues," he said tiredly, "We're already going to the Ministry of Health to get extra supplies we are running out of. We hope the UN manages to convince the Israelis to open a safe passage to the south, but at the same time, when that happens, we will be deluged with patients and I don't know how we'll be able to handle all of them."

*************

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has reported for the Guardian, the Independent, and the Sunday Herald. He now writes regularly for Inter Press Service and Truthout. He maintains a web site at dahrjamailiraq.com.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news