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From Walid Raad in Beirut.


This morning


Yet another day of bombing all over the place. In the mountain here, we were subject to about three different bombing runs: 1 to continue destroying the Beirut to Damascus road; another to destroy the cell phone antennas; and another to again hit the Beirut to Damascus road. Just a few minutes ago, the house was shaking again, and I only assume the Israelis are pounding the same area. The safe areas are much further to the north, the northeastern enclave, an area traditionally christian. Listening to Nasrallah's speech tonight was not reassuring one bit. After pleading with the Lebanese to stand firm, and after denouncing Arab government leaving Lebanon to pay the price for Israeli aggression, he asked us all to look at sea and watch the Israeli gunboat that had been pounding the coast and hills all day. he said that it was about to be hit by a HizbAllah missile. He promised that it will burn, that it will sink, that its sailors will die. It made me sickto my stomach, almost as much as it makes me sick to hear Olmert, Bush, the Saudi, and Palestinian position about this. Nasrallah also called for an open war against Israel, and that he will hit Haifa, and what is behind Haifa, and behind and behind Haifa. What this means remains unlcear. But clearly it is worrying. Within minutes of the speech, parts of West Beirut were celebrating. The city is about to be reduced to rubble, and fireworks are being fired in the air. Incredible. Al-Jazeera and most local networks pointed their lenses towards to sea, to look for a missile launch, which came but was not visible. This is just not good. This is just about to get worse. I dont know what to think anymore. Pundits are speculating, making noise: Did HizbAllah need to drag Lebanon into this mess at this time? How can HizbAllah monopolize the decision to launch a war, to destroy the country? Others are convinced that Israel is simply intent on enforcing resolution 1559, namely to disarm HizbAllah by force. HizbAllah is asking everyone to stand form, and to be patient. This has happened before and we have triumphed. We will triumph again, they say. Whatever all this leads to, one thing is certain, the scale of the destruction is enormous. People are dying in the south and elsewhere. Too many. The bombing has moved to the north and in the past hour positions inside Syria were hit. Iran has said that were Syria to be hit, they will respond. A regional war? What's going on?

Embassies here are starting to remove their citizens. the French, canadians, germans, and the americans just announced the same.

I cannot imagine this going on for months, despite what some officials up high are stating. I assume that the regional ploy is to disarm hizbAllah. This will only happen is Syria and Iran get something in return. What is the U.S. willing to grant them? Also, they have to find a way out for HizbAllah. Which means that their position inside the Lebanese government will have to be negotiated. They may disarm them, but they have to give them a way out as well. After all, HizbAllah represents 1 million folks here. Israel and the U.S cannot kill them all.

Rumors aplenty, every ten minutes. The news, all of it, Arab and international, makes me sick. We are stuck with a false choice: Support HizbAllah, or be an Israeli agent. That is at least what HizbAllah and their Syrian allies are saying. The Christian right's position is equally naive. They want to assume that HizbAllah will just go away. they are wishing it at least. That wont happen, no matter what. Everyone is miscalculating it seems: HizbAllah, the Americans, the Israelis, The Saudis, the Palestinians, The French, The Russians, The Chinese. You name it. The effects on the ground will remain once this crisis is resolved, and has already generated enough antagonism to last us another decade.

We are trying to think of what to do. To leave, and be stuck in the U.S glued to the TV trying to figure out what is happening will be maddening.

This will clearly get worse before it gets better, and we have not seen the worse yet. Now, all parties are slowly revealing their cards.



This evening ....

We still have the land-line. Cell phones are working from time to time. Electricity is being rationed. We are getting around 8 hours a day. Generators provide the rest at this point. It is a situation we are used to, one that is decent -- even very good compared to what other areas of the country are living through at the moment.

More idiots on Lebanese TV speculating some more about Israel's and HizbAllah's intentions. More shelling in the Southern Suburb. More massacres in the South. More missiles to northern Israel. More fireworks celebrating HizbAllah's resistance.

Doi we need to say this again and again and again: There is no such thing as targeted/surgical shelling in a city with hundreds of thousands of homes, built cheek to cheek. Israel shelled the house of Hassan Nasrallah. I suppose they thought he would be home enjoying his afternoon tea at the time. They took out the light house that stood on the Corniche, lest it send out distress signals that the world will not see. A family leaving, fleeing its village in the South was pulverized -- surely the smoke from the shelling blinded the scope of the gunner, preventing him/her from seeing that the small people in the car were not extremely short HizbAllah fighters. Should we tally numbers? Do we need to open more morgue doors b to reveal yet another mangled body, yet another weeping parent, yet another angry relative denouncing this or that government? this or that policy?

Amr Moussa stated tonight, after the spineless meeting of Arab ministers, that it is clear now that the U.S. has handed Israel a free hand in solving the Mid-East crisis, as it sees fit. Whether it decides unilaterally to withdraw from Gaza, from the West Bank, from destroying Gaza again, from destroying Beirut, etc. I wonder what took them so long to figure this out. Is the oil in the Gulf still a weapon in their hands? Surely not, as we are reminded time and time again. What is the price of oil again? How much of Europe's oil supplied by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis? How much of the U.S. oil is supplied by the Middle East? Did we reach 78 USD a barrel yet? Maybe the Saudis will use some of the surplus to rebuild the country again. What's a billion dollars when the price of oil reaches 78 USD? Someone knows this somewhere, and is most likely depending on it.

Israeli cease-fire conditions announced -- as I write this:

-Retreat of HizbAllah fighters to behind the Litani river in the south. -Hand-over of all HizbAllah missiles to the Lebanese Army -Deployment of the Lebanese Army in the South.

On this end, I am tired, and am not able to think straight anymore. Hoping for a quiet night, and to wake up with a cease-fire declared.