A gripping diary of one week in the life and death of Beirut

Published: 23 July 2006

Sunday 16 July

It is the first time I have actually seen a missile in this war. They fly too fast - or you are too busy trying to run away to look for them - but this morning, Abed and I actually see one pierce the smoke above us. "Habibi (my friend)!" he cries, and I start screaming "Turn the car round, turn it round" and we drive away for our lives from the southern suburbs. As we turn the corner there is a shattering explosion and a mountain of grey smoke blossoming from the road we have just left. What happened to the men and women we saw running for their lives from that Israeli rocket? We do not know. In air raids, all you see is the few square yards around you. You get out and you survive and that is enough.

I go home to my apartment on the Corniche and find that the electricity is cut. Soon, no doubt, the water will be cut. But I sit on my balcony and reflect that I am not crammed into a filthy hotel in Kandahar or Basra but living in my own home and waking each morning in my own bed. Power cuts and fear and the lack of petrol now that Israel is bombing gas stations mean that the canyon of traffic which honks and roars outside my home until two in the morning has gone. When I wake in the night, I hear the birds and the wash of the Mediterranean and the gentle brushing of palm leaves.

I went to buy groceries this evening. There is no more milk but plenty of water and bread and cheese and fish. When Abed pulls up to let me out of the car, the man in the 4x4 behind us puts his hand permanently on the horn, and when I get out of Abed's car, he mouths the words "Kess uchtak" at me. "Fuck your sister." It is the first time I have been cursed in this war. The Lebanese do not normally swear at foreigners. They are a polite people. I hold my hand out, palm down and twist it palm upwards in the Lebanese manner, meaning "what's the problem?". But he drives away. Anyway, I don't have a sister.

Monday 17 July

The phones are still working and my mobile chirrups like a budgerigar. Too many of the calls are from friends who want to know if they should flee Beirut or flee Lebanon or from Lebanese who are outside Lebanon and want to know if they should return. I can hear the bombs rumbling across Hizbollah's area of the southern suburbs but I cannot answer these questions. If I advise friends to stay and they are killed, I am responsible. If I tell them to leave and they are killed in their cars, I am responsible. If I tell them to come back and they die, I am responsible. So I tell them how dangerous Lebanon has become and tell them it is their decision. But I feel great sorrow for them. Many have been refugees four times in 24 years. Today I am called by a Lebanese woman with Lebanese and Iranian citizenship and one child with a US passport and another with only a Lebanese passport. Her situation is hopeless. I suggest she travels to the Christian mountains around Faraya and try to find a chalet. It will be safe there. I hope.

I come back from Kfar Chim where part of an Israeli missile or an aircraft wing has just partially decapitated the driver of a car. He looked so tragic, his head lolling forward in the driver's seat, just looking at all the blood splashing down his body on to the floor. Abed was getting spooked because I spent too long at the scene. The Israelis always come back. "Habibi, you took too long. Never stay that long again!" He is right. The Israelis did come back and bombed the Lebanese army.

Now my housemaid Fidele is spooked. She thinks it is too dangerous to travel from the Christian district of Beirut to my home since the Israelis blew the top off the local lighthouse 400 metres from my front door. Fidele is from Togo and makes fantastic pizzas (I recommend her Pizza Togolaisi to anyone) so I send Abed off to pick up her up and bring her to my home for one hour. She puts my dirty clothes in the washing machine, and after five minutes the power goes off and we have to take them all out and try again tomorrow.

Tuesday 18 July

At 3.45am, I wake to the sound of tank tracks and a big military motor heaving away in the darkness. I go downstairs to find that the Lebanese army has positioned an American-made armoured personnel carrier in the car park opposite my home. It has been placed strategically under some palm trees, as if this will stop Israeli aircraft from spotting it. I don't like this at all and nor does my landlord, Mustafa, who lives downstairs. The Lebanese army is now an occasional target for the Israelis and this little behemoth looks like a palm tree disguised as a tank. Later in the morning, I call a general in the army who is a friend of mine and army operations calls me back to check the location. It takes an hour before they find the car park on their maps. Then I receive another call telling me that the APC is next to my home to prevent the Hizbollah from using the car park to launch another missile at an Israeli ship. The empty American Community School is just up my road. The Lebanese army is defending us.

The first French warship arrives to pick up French citizens fleeing Lebanon. It steams proudly past my balcony. Many French naval vessels are named after great military leaders, and this particular anti-submarine frigate is called the Jean-de-Vienne. I pad off to consult my little library of French history books. Jean de Vienne, it turns out, was a 14th-century French admiral who raided the Sussex town of Rye and the Isle of Wight and who was killed - oh lordy, lordy - fighting in the Crusades against the Muslim Turks. A suitable ship to start France's evacuation of the ancient Crusader port of Beirut.

Wednesday 19 July

Now that the Israelis are destroying whole apartment blocks in the Shia southern suburbs - there is a permanent umbrella of smoke over the seafront, stretching far out into the Mediterranean - tens of thousands of Shia Muslims have come to seek sanctuary in the undamaged part of Beirut, in the parks and schools and beside the sea. They walk back and forth outside my home, the women in chadors, their bearded husbands and brothers silently looking at the sea, their children playing happily around the palm trees. They speak to me with anger about Israel but choose not to discuss the depth of cynicism of the Shia Hizbollah who provoked Israel's brutality by capturing two of its soldiers. As well as the Hizbollah, the Israelis are now targeting food factories and trucks and buses - not to mention 46 bridges - and the bin men are now reluctant to pick up the rubbish skips each night for fear their innocent rubbish truck is mistaken for a missile launcher. So no rubbish collection this morning.

The local Beirut papers are filled with photographs that would never be seen in the pages of a British paper: of decapitated babies and women with no legs or arms or of old men in bits. Israel's air raids are promiscuous and - when you see the results as we now do with our own eyes - obscene. No doubt Hizbollah's equally innocent civilian victims in Israel look like this but the slaughter in Lebanon is on an infinitely more terrible scale. The Lebanese look at these pictures and see them on television - as does the rest of the Arab world - and I wonder how many of them are provoked to think of another 9/11 or 7/7 or whatever the next date will be.

What does war do to people? Later, I am talking to an Austrian journalist and idly ask what her father does. "He drinks," she says. Why? "Because his father was killed at Stalingrad."

I walk across with tea for the soldiers on the APC in the car park. They are all from Baalbek, Shia Muslims. They would never open fire on a Hizbollah missile crew. Then I return home from another visit to the southern suburbs and find they have gone, along with their behemoth. The first good news of the day.

The minister of finance holds a press conference to talk of the billions of dollars of damage being done to Lebanon by Israel's air raids. "We have had pledges of aid from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar," he proudly announces. "And from Syria and Iran?" the man from Irish radio asks, naming Hizbollah's two principal supporters in the Muslim world. "Nothing," the minister replies dismissively.

Thursday 20 July

A bad day for messages. Phone calls from the States to tell me I am an anti-Semite for criticising Israel. Here we go again. To call decent folk anti-Semites is soon going to make anti-Semitism respectable, I tell the callers before asking them to tell the Israeli air force to stop killing civilians. Then a fax from a Jewish friend in California to tell me that a man called Lee Kaplan - "a columnist for the Israel National News", whatever that is - has condemned me in print for developing a "high-paid speaking career among anti-Semites". Unlike Benjamin Netanyahu and many others I can think of, I never take money for lecturing - ever - but to smear the thousands of ordinary Americans who listen to me as anti-Semites is outrageous.

Another fax from the editor of the forthcoming paperback edition of my book, apologising for bothering me at a "very difficult (sic) time" but promising to send me page proofs by DHL which is still operating to Beirut. I go downtown to check this with DHL. Yes, the man says, parcels for Lebanon are sent to Jordan and then in a truck via Damascus to Beirut. A truck, I say to myself. Ouch.

Friday 21 July

The Israelis have just bombed Khiam prison. An interesting target since this was the jail in which Israel's former proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army, used to torture male prisoners by attaching electrodes to their penises and female prisoners by electrocuting their breasts. When the Israeli army retreated in 2000, the Hizbollah turned the prison into a museum. Now the evidence of the SLA's cruelty has been erased. Another "terrorist" target.

The power comes back at home at 11pm and I watch Israel's consul general, Arye Mekel, telling the BBC that Israel is "doing the Lebanese a favour" by bombing Hizbollah, insisting that "most Lebanese appreciate what we are doing". So now I understand. The Lebanese must thank the Israelis for destroying their lives and infrastructure. They must be grateful for all the air strikes and the dead children. It's as if the Hizbollah claimed that Israelis should be grateful to them for attacking Zionism. How far can self-delusion reach?

Saturday 22 July

I have coffee in my landlord's garden and he climbs an old wooden ladder into his fig tree and brings me a plate of fruit. "Every day it gives us our figs," he tells me. "We sit under our tree in the afternoon and with the breeze off the sea, it is like air conditioning." I look at his little paradise of pot plants and sip my Arabic coffee from a little blue mug. We watch the warships sliding into Beirut port. "What will happen when all the foreigners have gone?" he asks. That's what we are all asking. We shall find out this week.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1191934.ece


Hizbollah's response reveals months of planning
By Robert Fisk

The Independent , 16 July 2006

Israel's top-secret military air traffic control centre in Miron and the nerve-centre of the Israeli northern military command destroyed by Hizbollah missiles. Since almost all the missiles used to kill the civilians of Lebanon over the past four days were made in Seattle, Duluth and Miami in the United States, their use already suggests to millions of Lebanese that America is behind the bombardment of their country.

It will be called the massacre of Marwaheen. All the civilians killed by the Israelis had been ordered to abandon their homes in the border village by the Israelis themselves a few hours earlier. Leave, they were told by loudspeaker; and leave they did, 20 of them in a convoy of civilian cars. That's when the Israeli jets arrived to bomb them, killing 20 Lebanese, at least nine of them children. The local fire brigade could not put out the fires as they all burned alive in the inferno. Another "terrorist" target had been eliminated.

Yesterday, the Israelis even produced more "terrorist" targets - petrol stations in the Bekaa Valley all the way up to the frontier city of Hermel in northern Lebanon and another series of bridges on one of the few escape routes to Damascus, this time between Chtaura and the border village of Masnaa. But who is really winning the war? Not Lebanon, you may say, with its more than 90 civilian dead and its infrastructure steadily destroyed in hundreds of Israeli air raids. But is Israel winning? Friday night's missile attack on an Israeli warship off the coast of Lebanon suggests otherwise. Four Israeli sailors were killed, two of them hurled into the sea when a tele-guided missile smashed into their Hetz-class gunboat just off Beirut at dusk. Those Lebanese who had endured the fire of Israeli gunboats on the coastal highway over many years were elated.

Only now, however, is a truer picture emerging of the battle for southern Lebanon and it is a fascinating, frightening tale. The original border crossing, the capture of the two soldiers and the killing of three others was planned, according to Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader who escaped assassination by the Israelis on Friday evening, more than five months ago. And Friday's missile attack on the Israeli gunboat was not the last-minute inspiration of a Hizbollah member who just happened to see the warship.It now appears clear that the Hizbollah leadership - Nasrallah used to be the organisation's military commander in southern Lebanon - thought carefully through the effects of their border crossing, relying on the cruelty of Israel's response to quell any criticism of their action within Lebanon. They were right in their planning. The Israeli retaliation was even crueller than some Hizbollah leaders imagined, and the Lebanese quickly silenced all criticism of the guerrilla movement.

Hizbollah had presumed the Israelis would cross into Lebanon after the capture of the two soldiers and they blew up the first Israeli Merkava tank when it was only 35 feet inside the country. All four Israeli crewmen were killed and the Israeli army moved no further forward. The long-range Iranian-made missiles which later exploded on Haifa had been preceded only a few weeks ago by a pilotless Hizbollah drone aircraft which surveyed northern Israel and then returned to land in eastern Lebanon after taking photographs during its flight. These pictures not only suggested a flight path for Hizbollah's rockets to Haifa; they also identified Israel's top-secret military air traffic control centre in Miron.

The next attack - concealed by Israel's censors - was directed at this facility. Codenamed "Apollo", Israeli military scientists work deep inside mountain caves and bunkers at Miron, guarded by watchtowers, guard-dogs and barbed wire, watching all air traffic moving in and out of Beirut, Damascus, Amman and other Arab cities. The mountain is surmounted by clusters of antennae which Hizbollah quickly identified as a military tracking centre. Before they fired rockets at Haifa, they therefore sent a cluster of missiles towards Miron. The caves are untouchable but the targeting of such a secret location by Hizbollah deeply shocked Israel's military planners. The "centre of world terror" - or whatever they imagine Lebanon to be - could not only breach their frontier and capture their soldiers but attack the nerve-centre of the Israeli northern military command.

Then came the Haifa missiles and the attack on the gunboat. It is now clear that this successful military operation - so contemptuous of their enemy were the Israelis that although their warship was equipped with cannon and a Vulcan machine gun, they didn't even provide the vessel with an anti-missile capability - was also planned months ago. Once the Hetz-class boats appeared, Hizbollah positioned a missile crew on the coast of west Beirut not far from Jnah, a crew trained over many weeks for just such an attack. It took less than 30 seconds for the Iranian-made missile to leave Beirut and hit the vessel square amidships, setting it on fire and killing the sailors.

Ironically, the Israelis themselves had invited journalists on an "embedded" trip with their navy only hours earlier - they were allowed to film the ships' guns firing on Lebanon - and the moment Hizbollah hit the warship on Friday, Hizbollah's television station, Al-Manar, began showing the "embedded" film. It was a slick piece of propaganda.The Israelis were yesterday trumpeting the fact that the missile was made in Iran as proof of Iran's involvement in the Lebanon war. This was odd reasoning. Since almost all the missiles used to kill the civilians of Lebanon over the past four days were made in Seattle, Duluth and Miami in the United States, their use already suggests to millions of Lebanese that America is behind the bombardment of their country.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited.



07/23/06 "xymphora" -- -Reassessing the Hariri assassination in the light of recent events:

The Hariri assassination, immediately blamed on Syria (with no evidence other than the lies promoted by Mehlis), led directly to Syria being forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. It is obvious that that step was a necessary precondition of Israeli involvement in Lebanon.

The huge mystery of the current Israeli adventures is why Israel is sacrificing so much international goodwill in murdering innocent Lebanese civilians, when its stated goal is ‘self-defense’ against Hezbollah. In fact, Israel is spending an inordinate amount of time destroying Lebanese infrastructure and making direct attacks against the Lebanese army, the latter particularly odd if Israel really wants the Lebanese army to disarm Hezbollah. Israel’s actions are actually strengthening the position of Hezbollah, which isn’t so odd when you consider the fact that Israel has long helped to create its own enemies in order to have an excuse for colonialist attacks against them. In this case, attacks against the central Lebanese government and army appear to be leading to an argument that Lebanon - newly destroyed Lebanon - is incapable of living up to its international obligations to disarm Hezbollah, leading directly to the necessity of Israel entering Lebanon to do the job itself.

Israel has another motive in wanting to destroy Lebanese civil society, as such destruction is part of the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. Ideally, Lebanon will end up fractured on ethnic lines, following the Yinon plan of breaking all of Israel’s potential enemies into tiny statelets. A peaceful and tolerant and wealthy Lebanon is bad publicity for the general Zionist line that Arabs are incapable of such progress.

Hariri was one of the main architects of the reconstruction of Lebanon, and would not have stood for its re-destruction. He had a lot of powerful friends around the world, and would probably have been able to prevent the current Israeli attacks. Even if the attacks had done damage, he would have been able to lead the re-reconstruction, thwarting Israeli long-term plans. It was thus necessary to remove him as a precondition of the current Israeli attacks.

The original Official Story of the Hariri assassination was that it was an underground explosion of a type that only the Syrian intelligence services could have handled. When it turned out that the evidence indicated a truck bomb, the propaganda machine turned 180 degrees and declared that it was the work of an ‘al Qaeda’ group hired by the Syrians (odd given the fact that the Syrian government is probably the biggest enemy of al Qaeda). We have recently seen that the Israeli spy ring in Lebanon had very curious connections to al Qaeda organizations in Lebanon. It is not difficult to see how Israel managed to cloak the Hariri assassination, now clearly part of the current attack on Lebanon, in such a way as to direct blame towards Syria, thus leading directly to the removal of Syrian troops.

Israel has a number of goals in its current attacks, the ultimate one being fooling the Americans into another war for Israel, this time against Syria. The most feasible goal, however, is water. With the connivance of the Americans, Israel is resisting calls for any kind of ceasefire or negotiated settlement, as that would prevent Israel from achieving its real goal of seizing southern Lebanon, including control over the water in the Litani river (some of which is already being stolen by the Israelis). UN peacekeepers would make such a goal impossible, and so UN involvement must be resisted. The plan is to take over southern Lebanon under the guise of creating a Hezbollah-free buffer zone to protect Israel from Hezbollah rocket attacks. Of course, we’re supposed to forget the fact that the dangerous rocket attacks - the ones that haven’t been faked by the IDF - only occurred after the Israeli attack on Lebanon, and the fact that a buffer zone will have no effect on Hezbollah’s ability to send rockets into Israel. The real goal of the buffer zone will be to allow Israel to begin to siphon off greater quantities of Lebanese water.

It is only in the light of the ongoing crimes being committed by Israel in Lebanon that we can come to a full understanding of the real reason for the assassination of Rafik Hariri. Like Hollis Mulwray in the movie Chinatown, Hariri died so that water could be stolen.





 Fredrick Töben thinks aloud:   

The continued belief in the 'HOLOCAUST' justifies Israel's continued existence.

The belief in the 'Holocaust' perpetuates virulent hatred against anything German.

What to do?

Horst Mahler offers a way out of this Jewish-German conundrum and makes suggestions


How Kosher is the Holocaust Story?

$1000.00 reward (will be paid by RePortersNoteBook.com) to the first person to prove that any essay or article at The Holocaust Historiography Project web site is inaccurate.



1 October 2005

Dr Robert Fisk visits Adelaide  


The University of Adelaide, Elder Hall

5 pm, 1 October 2005

Inaugural Edward Said Memorial Lecture

Professor Edward Said 1935-2003


Brief report by  Fredrick Töben

Elder Hall was overflowing with individuals who wished to hear what Dr Fisk had to say about Professor Edward Said, on the Palestine conflict, and during question time a comment on the Iraq war.

Edward Said's aim was to bring together the Jews and Palestinians, and most markedly he did this by combining with composer/conductor Daniel Barenboim to form an orchestra in which Palestinians and Jews made music together - before Beethoven they are all equal! This kind of work was not appreciated by a number of New York Jews, and one of them wrote a vicious obituary about Said.

Fisk's essential argument about the Israel-Palestine ethnic cleansing war is that nothing will work unless the UN's Resolution 242 is adhered to.  Oslo was a farce because, among other things, not a single Palestinian lawyer was involved in the drafting process of this agreement.

In a video clip Fisk interviews a Palestinian who  refuses to leave his home, but then is legally forced to vacate his land because his land is deemed to be needed for "public purpose", i.e. needed for new immigrants or members of the army. His wish to remain within that Israeli settlement  is rejected because he is not a Jew. When the Palestinian claimed he doesn't mind living among Jews, a settler Jew scoffs at this because it would not be acceptable to have Palestinians living in their midst.

Albright's term became currency to a hopeless situation - she said that the Palestinians may gain a sense of sovereignty over Muslim religious sites. In Israel itself Fisk has noticed no give-and-take on any issues, and he thinks a change within Israel will have to come from New York.

Fisk also mentioned the intimidation, the generation of fear, within Australia on this Israel-Palestine conflict. It's a kind of sick fantasy that's prevailing in Australia. For example, he reminded the audience how the University of Sydney caved in to pressure from Australia's Jews when it was about to bestow the Sydney Peace Prize on Hanan Ashrawi.  He asks "How much longer must this go on?"- meaning the intimidation, which he says is getting nastier and is worsening. His final words to his audience were: Watch out!

My question to Robert Fisk was what he thought about the likelihood of the one-state solution succeeding. He thinks this is illusory - it will not happen and the only solution lies in the implementation of UN Resolution 242.

He regrets that there is a culture of fear - no moral courage, but he correctly pointed out that once you have lost your fear, it cannot ever again be re-injected into you. Revisionists know well what Fisk is talking about here.

To the Iraq situation situation Fisk hypothesized:

America must leave Iraq

America will leave Iraq

America cannot leave Iraq.

The US will start to negotiate with the insurgents, as it is already doing in parts of the country. Then the new government will ask the US to leave, and the US will interpret this as an act of Iraqi democracy working.

The problem with the current situation is that the Iraq situation is operating at a mythical level. He calls reports emanating, especially from AP, as "Hotel journalism"  where journalists live behind armoured walls. It is unsafe - outright dangerous - for anyone to go out into the streets. Even a visit to one of his favourite restaurants was risky business, but he realized that the once cosmopolitan restaurant that he had frequented during calmer days, had been totally Islamized.

Fisk reminds his audience of what the British faced in 1917 after its intelligence services informed them they would be welcomed in Mesopotamia. The same pattern emerged then, as today. The insurgents gained control of the country without adopting western-style democracy, and this will again happen.

Dr Robert Fisk received a long standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

After the lecture the now traditional photo-session: Fredrick Töben with Robert Fisk

Fisk believes in the 'Holocaust', and perhaps that is why he still gets away with writing the truth about Middle East politics.

It is interesting to  note how much indirect persecution he has already had to endure because of his fearless stance -

- and another revelation about Robert Fisk: he is a wise man because he does not have an email address!

Dr Fisk's latest book The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East will soon be available.




Here are various articles of public interest related to the Middle East sadness that are currently doing the email circuit: There is always that reference to 'Hitler' or the 'Holocaust'.

If only the peoples of the Middle East were to seek the truth and fight the lie ...

1. Israel using sound bombs in skies over Gaza

2. US embargo on helicopter parts to Israel before 9/11, in view of "targeted killings"

3. Hitler’s Mufti

4. Jewish Agency to recruit soldiers as emissaries abroad

5. Mossad Assassinated Sweden's Future Prime Minister

6. Israelis urge U.S. to stop Iran's nuke goals

7. Israeli's exacerbating situation in Northern Iraq with Mossad presence

8. Opening Up Jewish Eyes

9. Ayalon: Israel will stand by

10. ''A Rose is A Rose''

11. A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

12. Generations of the Shoah International Newsletter

13. The latest Ghost Troop Report -Last Marine in unit mourns 11 lost friends

14. Jewish Psychological warfare in Dallas, Texas  - An example of how terrorism succeeds in America, and why it does--

15. Imperial Hubris:Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror


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