lunedì 16 novembre 2015

On the way to south

Beautiful day in Tyre (Sur) today.

Despite the terrible events of Thursday evening last week in South Beirut, an area where Hezbollah enjoys wide support, my friend Megan had the brilliant idea to go on a trip to a city where the "Party of God" is equally as popular as the area affected by the bombings. No, it's not a joke. We casually decided to go.

And now that I'm home I can say I'm glad we did it. It turned out to be a fascinating and somehow interesting city to visit. The scars of the 2006 war against Israel and the memories of the civil war are still printed in people's mind and vivid in their words.

We got a van from Cola and together with 5 man, two soldiers of the army (one damn young, it was not even in his twenty), a woman with her hijab, the driver and us two, we started the journey to Tyre. Surprisingly, it only took us one hour and a half to reach the destination. After all Lebanon is a tiny country. It only takes about two hours to reach both its most southern and northern point.

This city is still one of the few places outside of Beirut labelled as "safe", so an area where I can finally go. Despite this apparent safety it wasn't hard to spot the military, their guns, tanks and so on..

 The thingsthat you notice the most when entering the city are two flags, yellow and green.

The former is the one of Hezbollah composed of the green logo (which incorporates several objects, namely a globe, a book, a sword, and a seven-leafed branch) of the Shia political military organisation upon a yellow background; the latter corresponds to the symbol of the Amal Movement, which is now the largest Shia political party in parliament whose militia has taken part in the Lebanese Civil War. Amal is also an Arabic noun, meaning "hope."

The entire city is marked by these flags; pictures of martyrs were at every light stand, same with those of the politicians. There is also a cemetery by the sea, calm and peaceful.

On top of this, Sur is also the UNIFIL zone.The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was established in 1978 to:
  • "Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from souther n Lebanon.
  • Restore international peace and security.
  • Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in
    the area"
After the 2006 war against Israel UNIFIL was also asked to (among other things)  monitor the cessation of hostilities and to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons. Its troops remain present till these days; that means more three decades of peacekeeping troops on the Lebanese soil... You can see the UNIFIL boundary marked by the light blue line in the map below.

I have probably seen no less than ten UN tanks moving on the road of Tyre today.
Such issue is an indicator of how delicate, complex and extremely volatile the situation is in this country.

Standing from the beach and looking at the horizon you can spot the Palestinian refugee camp Rashidieh on the left hand side (which hosts more around 30.000 people) and moving along the way to the center of the pic you can even see Palestine (or for some Israel)...

If you are interested in reading about the 12 official Palestinian camps across Lebeanon take a lot to this article from Al-Monitor. It's from 2012 but most of the information remains relevant to these days.

Till next time. Another busy week is knocking at the door.


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