It appears that the "warriors of the South" have went ahead with another apparently successful kidnapping operation. Well... so much for their claim of "defending Lebanon from Israeli aggression."
Over here in Ras Beirut, I am completely oblivious to Hizballah's shenanigans - social, political and military! I hope the Israelis don't change that. In fact, the way I learnt of this new escalation in the South was through the efforts of the erstwhile journalists of BBC.
On that note, I'm gonna turn on the TV and try to get what the hell is goin' down.
Update: It appears that Israel has limited its retaliation to the South. Fighter aircraft have destroyed three or four bridges/overpasses and one power transmition station. As for the rest of Lebanon, well... so much for the tourist season!
Update 2: I just saw a video feed on LBCI that showed a Lebanese Army checkpoint that was destroyed by an Israeli missle. I saw several overturned cars, and at least one lightly injured man. Several ambulances were also on the scene.
Update 3: BBC reports that two Lebanese civilians have been killed.
Update 4: Former President Amin el Gemeyel was just interviewed on LBCI. His talking points included referring back to the 1969 Cairo Agreement, preventing individual parties from taking decisions that affect all Lebanese, returning the focus onto fixing Lebanon's internal order, and avoiding a war that is bigger than Lebanon and one that thousands of Lebanese have already died for. He has called for an emergency Hiwar Watani session to deal with the latest developments.
Update 5: Butros Harb says that this Hizballah attack was a complete surprize. Especially considering the delicate political situation and the tourist season. "decisions pertaining to war and peace can only be taken by all Lebanese, not just one party.... I call for an emergy session of the Hiwar el Watani.... Hizballah's operation breached Lebanon's sovereignty.... Hizballah must now act responsibly and take into consideration the interests of all Lebanese and Lebanon's infrastructure.... Hizballah's operations must be overseen by a legitimate body...."
Update 6: LBCI reports six dead Israeli soldiers.
Update 7: My mom and I are now discussing where would be the safest place to take the family.
Update 8: LBCI reports that three more civilians were killed underneath a bridge targeted by Israeli fighter jets on the North-South highway next to Sour/Tyre.
Update 9: The Zahrani power station may have just been hit.
Update 10: The Zahrani power station actually was just hit.
Update 11: EDL rejects claims that the Zahrani power station was destroyed.
Update 12: Israelis have destroyed several more bridges including one in Wadi el Akhdar
Update 13: Israeli jets continue to fly and hit targets all over the South (esp. over Nabatieh and Marjouyoun). Warships of the Israeli Navy have also been seen on Lebanese territorial waters
Update 14: Hizballah supporters in Beirut are celebrating by driving around, honking horns, and using firecrackers.
Update 15: Tele Liban, Lebanon's official state television channel, is currently running a live cooking show.
Update 16: Hizballah claims that two of its soldiers were killed during the operation. One of whom is Sour/Tyre resident, Nasim Nisr.
Update 17: Shi'a Sayyed Mohammad Hassanein Fadlallah has called and congratulated his counterpart, and Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah
Update 18: Future TV is now playing an Egyptian soap opera. the only two channels with live coverage are LBCI, Hizballah's Manar, (and just recently, New TV).
Update 19: Palestinian refugees are celebrating in their camps, and al Manar filed a report with Samir Quntar's family at their home in Abey, in which they congratulated and thanked Hizballah for the operation.
You know what's funny... these past couple of days as I walked around Beirut and took all those pictures, I thought to myself: "maybe if we're actually given the time to rebuild our country, without interludes of war and complete destruction every ten to twenty years, maybe we could actually start getting things right!" How Naive!
Update 20: My sister just walked in and asked: "so what did stupid Hizballah just do?"
Update 21: New TV is just playing reruns of "no comment" shots they recorded earlier in the day. LBCI continues live coverage. Reports that Israeli Appaches have joined the fray over Jezzine.
Update 22: Druze Sheikh el Akl Bahjat Ghaith has just congratulated Hizballah, after receiving delegations from the SSNP and Wiam Wahhab.
Update 23: Three New TV journalists just injured by Israeli missle. They have been trasported to a hospital.
Taking short break. Will be back to report any significant developments.
Update 24: New TV journalists were hurt because they drove into a crater left by an Israeli missle. Their injuries are light. There were just two of them, not three. One of their last names is Aridi - I forgot their full names, but Aridi stuck in my mind for obvious reasons.
Update 25: Samir Jaejae: "What just happened is dangerous. From this point on decisions to launch military operations can only be made at the level of Council of Ministers. The Lebanese government must make the decision to fire even one bullet. We cannot allow simply one party to wage a private war against Israel. You can't have one person act and then have the Lebanese government cover their mess. The government will collapse that way. If the situation continues like this, we'll have a collection of militias in Lebanon. We have tens of prisoners in Syria, how would people react if we start kidnapping Syrian soldiers?"
Update 26: AP reports that the Israeli military announced killing several Hizballah militiamen attempting to infiltrate into an Israeli position.
Update 27: Hassan Nasrallah is giving a press conference. He is out of breath. He is sweating.
Update 28: NASRALLAH (rough translation): The operation took place at 9:05 AM. The Israeli response began at 10:30 AM. The . This is the only way to move forward. This is the natural choice. It is the only way to free the prisoners. If anybody has any options please tell me. Also let them tell me why those means have not succeeded over the past 20 years. We are highlighting to the world our cause. There are over 10,000 Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab prisoners that need to be released. Our aim is to close the issue of prisoners completely. And the only way to do so is to take Israeli prisoners of our own. We also seek to help the Palestinians in Gaza. This is a message to the Israelis: our self-control is not weakness. It is merely taking calculated moves.
We tell the Israelis that the only way to free the Israelis is through indirect negotiations and a prisoner exchange. The Israelis and the World can do whatever they want, but they won't get anywhere. No military operation will get anywhere if the objective is to free the soldiers. If the military operation is intended to punish Lebanon, then they should expect surprizes. We have been preparing for an Israeli invasion since the day the Israelis were kicked out.
Message to Lebanese: Nobody should behave in a way that would encourage the enemy. now is the time that we should unite. All politicians should act in a patriotic way. The government should act in a patriotic way. We acted in a patriotic way - you can agree or disagree with me. The government is asking us to keep Lebanon in mind. I say okay. But the way to keep Lebanon in mind is to prevent its exposure to Israeli aggression. I have gotten a number of phone calls saying that we should return the soldiers as soon as possible without asking for anything in return. That is not a reasonable request.
He goes on to convey messages to the Palestinian people and the Lebanese press. Couldn't really translate for this entry. sorry.
Update 29: An Arab news channel reports that the two Israeli soldiers captured are Druze.
Update 30: LBCI reports that US Secretary of State Rice is pressuring the Syrian regime to pressure Hizballah to release the Israeli prisoners.
Update 31: Nasrallah says that Hizballah has been working on this operation for five months.
Update 32: Lebanese government held a meeting, but could not agree on a unified position.
My eyes are about to pop out of my skull! Taking a break.
Update 33: Just came back from a walk on Beirut's Corniche. Everything seems normal. People are walking on the streets. Traffic is bad. People seem oblivious.
Going to relatives. Who knows... maybe I'll be exposed to some new information there.
Udpate 34: Nothing from the relatives. However, the Council of Ministers released a statement essentially declaring that they were not informed of the operation that Hizballah conducted in the South and that consequently, they will not be held responsible for it. Amal and Hizballah Ministers had the audacity to disaprove of that statement even though Nasrallah himself said that no state authority was informed of the operation.
Update 35: Future TV reports that a considerable number of Israeli Aircraft are now flying over the Chouf and Bekaa regions.
Update 36: The Damour Bridge (just south of Beirut) has just been destroyed.
I wouldn't want to be in General Michel Aoun's shoes right now! For the past month, he's been screaming about the unconstitutional way the majority has been execizing its powers while in government. And now, his erstwhile allies go and do something like this! Will be back in a couple of hours with more updates.
Wednesday, June 12, 2006.
Update 37 - 12:36 AM : Just got back after a drive around Beirut, and Aramoun/Khalde, just south of Beirut. I had to drive through the airport highway - which was a terrifying experience. But Beirut is quiet. The police are everywhere. The streets have emptied. It seems too much like the calm before the storm.
Update 38 - 12:47 AM : A well-connected highschool friend called me from Washington DC. I am to expect the worst. I am preparing for it.
Update 39 - 1:15 AM : Future TV reports that Prime Minister Seniora is in contact with World Leaders, and will be in Cairo on Saturday. Phone lines with Southern Lebanon have also been cut as a result of the Israeli raid that destroyed the Damour Bridge.
It's almost 2 o'clock in the morning. I'm going to bed. If something wakes me up, and I can update this blog, I'll do so.