By: Mahmoud Al-Adawi

As the war intensifies Mahmoud Al-Adawi retells the horrifying night of bombings in the area and the destruction of his cousin’s shop.

I think the situation is going to escalate, from what I can see of the ground operation so far, as well as the diplomatic track. I don’t know what they are thinking in terms of this draft UN resolution. It is absolutely inapplicable, at least for the time being. Even Siniora [Lebanese Prime Minister] – in reference to the resolution and his opinion that these things do not work in Lebanon – finished his speech by using an expression yesterday that could be used by someone who has just been ordered to kill himself by drinking poison: ‘Fear God in what you are doing.’

It was clear yesterday and today in the early morning that both sides are stepping up their activities, bombing and counter-bombing. It seems that from this side the intention was to send a message, saying that there is nothing that will make the Lebanese and Hizbullah accept this resolution and also to prove Hizbullah’s capacity to maintain its offensive at maximum.

From the Israeli side, it was a message to the Syrian Foreign Minister who was in Ba ‘ abda [village close to Beirut where the Presidential Palace is located] when they bombed the eastern part of Beirut, in the daytime. This was after he said that Syria would join the fighting if it were attacked by Israel.

Last Thursday [03 August] the situation in the camp was somewhat disturbed for a short time, after the Israelis dropped leaflets on the southern suburbs of Beirut, around the camp. The leaflets were telling people to leave some areas, mainly Haret Hreik and Ouzaii. Even though the leaflets where dropped outside the camp some guys brought a few of them in and the news started spreading before anyone had actually read what was written on them.

Some people started talking about leaving the camp, and of course this called for a great effort to try and calm people in the neighbourhood. I read the leaflet and it was clearly avoiding mentioning the Bourj area as a whole, which includes a Lebanese residential area, as well as the camp.

It seemed to me that the omission was intentional so as not to confuse people and make them believe that the camp could be bombed. Anyhow that was my interpretation. This commotion lasted for close to an hour, while Israeli drones flew overhead and everyone was standing around in the neighbourhood looking up at the sky.

Then everything when back to normal. A couple of hours later the planes started bombing all the places mentioned in the leaflet, mainly Ouzaii close to the airport highway junction, something that lasted until Friday morning. It was the most horrific night since the war started, because this time the jets stayed for a very long time and they dove – something that makes a very distinctly dreadful sound – prior to dropping the bombs (the sound of which could also, of course, be heard).

This is the first time since this war began that the Israeli jets have dived while bombing; they used to always drop bombs from a high altitude and we didn’t hear much before the actual explosions themselves. I went to check on all my family that night and I found them sitting in the living room, squeezed into one place and not talking much, like all the people in the camp that night.

It’s the common reaction to something that is beyond your ability to control, people call it destiny and say in such moments: ‘What can we do? Whatever comes, we can’t change it.’ I went back to bed to force myself to sleep despite the bombing, and I did manage to get some sleep, until suddenly it seemed that the bombing was much closer than usual. It was almost 5 am and I was lying on the ground beneath the open window.

Because I was somewhat asleep, I opened my eyes when I heard the explosion and I saw the curtain flying due to the pressure of the shockwave and thought that the wall was actually collapsing onto me. I flew from my bed, but once I realised that it was only the curtain I laughed at myself, got dressed and went out to take some pictures of the scene before going back to bed. The next day [Friday, 04 August] no one was up before noon because they didn’t get to sleep. When I returned from work, the effect was still clear: people’s faces displayed fatigue and worry; some had not eaten all day – and not due to stomach problems – but rather because of the stress endured that night. In the evening things were better, the night was calm, even though the bombing resumed after midnight, but not as intensely as the previous night.

Saturday [05 August] was relatively calm. I went to the office in the morning and then to Hamra. In that part of Beirut the situation is more normal, almost the same as before the war. There are fewer cars moving, but numerous parked cars along the streets, and more people than usual walking around. You really feel as though you are in a different country there.

I returned to the camp and took a walk through the alleyways, taking some pictures as I went. People were sitting in front of their homes in groups, as they usually do in the afternoons these days (as the weather is cooler) and there were tons of children too. When they saw me with a camera in hand they started jumping saying ‘Sawwirna! Sawwirna!’ [take our picture], as they usually do! So I took a few pictures of them and continued on. The shops in the camp are still open, but obviously with less stock. Some shops brought in more vegetables and fruits, as well as bread, so the feeling you get walking through the camp is still that the situation is relatively normal. I mean, you don’t feel that there is a serious problem yet, although some supplies are being distributed every once in a while. Yesterday [Sunday, 06 August] the bombing was once again very intense. The jets bombed Dahiyeh during the day, something that hasn’t happened in quite a few days, and this time the bombing was tremendous. At a certain point, it sounded almost as though it were raining bombs. This time, they bombed more toward the western side of Dahiyeh, about three blocks behind the Amliyyeh [a large technical college facing the camp directly]. When the dust cleared, we were able to see from our rooftop that the building behind the Amliyyeh had vanished – it had been completely wiped out. Then the bombs stated falling on the eastern side of Dahiyeh, where we saw them hit a block of buildings that then collapsed and disappeared as well. At the end, the bombs hit a building facing the Audi bank, at the lower edge of the camp and then silence prevailed. A few minutes later the news of the last bombing location started circulating. From the first moment I saw the bomb falling and exploding on that spot, I knew that it had hit the building where my cousin’s shop is located.

He has a shop for refrigerators and ACs there, but I didn’t say anything because I don’t like being the bearer of bad news. I knew that he was at home in our neighbourhood, but I found out later that he used to go to his shop everyday to spend a few hours there (yesterday, thankfully, he didn’t). So, of course, it didn’t take long for people to start streaming in to check on him because they knew that he had the habit of going there. When he found out he said, ‘What can we do? What happened to my shop is the same that has been happening to all the people who lived and worked in Dahiyeh.’ He tried to hide his sadness. Then his mother found out and she said the same thing, also trying to hide her sadness, although it seemed that she was about to start crying but she held it back.

That is, she held it back until she received a call from her brother. From her brother who is still living inside ’48 Palestine, close to Nahariya. He was checking on her and when she told him what had happened, he told her that it’s the same situation over there. That Katyushas are falling close to his house sometimes.

So at that point she started crying. You see it was the last draw, realising that her brother on the other side was also in danger. It was more than she could bear, and it destroyed any ability she had to control her tears.

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