By: Mahmoud Al-Adawi

The ceasefire has begun and Mahmoud Al-Adawi is surveying his surroundings, noticing the smell of pine trees along with pulverized concrete of the devastated buildings.

So until this moment it seems that the ceasefire is holding. The news is speaking about thousands of people from south Lebanon who are going back and not waiting, despite warnings of dangers like unexploded cluster bombs and such. Some news started mentioning casualties due to this. The Israelis are saying that the air and sea blockade is still in place, as is the prohibition against going south of the Litani River. This morning life somehow returned to the street next to the Amlieh [large technical college facing one side of the camp], filled with the traffic of people who had clearly returned to either check on their homes or just to take a first look at the destruction. I saw masses of people on the airport highway parking their cars and standing in groups at various bombed places, just watching. The lateral roads leading to the airport highway are closed, however, for safety, as there is rubble everywhere, so it’s even difficult for anyone to pass. I stood and looked out from a distance, surrounded by the broken branches of the pine trees, with their distinctive smell. A surge of memories came back to me, triggered by the familiar mingling of the smell pine trees mixing with that of explosives and pulverized concrete. The buildings on the side streets are a sight to behold. The buildings seem as though they have mutated, some have just vanished into piles of rubble. In other cases the top floors have collapsed, resting on the lower floors that remain standing. The buildings that are still standing have no walls, as if they had been sent back in time to the period when they were still under construction, just standing in columns. In the middle of the street lie chunks of debris, looking like arches over a devastated street. It is as though one were looking through an ancient tropical forest where all kinds of weird things block the view. This is just a taste of what you would see if you walked along this street, which leads you to the broken heart of Haret Hreik.

The last time they Israelis bombed Dahiyah was around 11 p.m. last night. Then it was quiet until this morning, when I was awoken at 6 a.m. by the sound of jets. There were a few small explosions and as I looked up over Beirut, I saw that these were caused by rockets exploding in the sky and leaflets being dropped onto the city. That was the last thing that occurred before everything went calm again.

This morning, before leaving the camp to go to work, I noticed that families who had left the camp were returning. Since last Friday, and the leaflets stating that Bourj el-Barajneh area (and not camp) was going to be targeted, there was a huge exodus. Since then, walking through the camp has felt different in some quarters, with patches of empty homes making the alleys strangely quiet. But given today’s ceasefire, I think the majority of those who left Friday or even before that time will return, and the alleyways will retrieve their chaos and noisy activity.

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