Good morning,

As you may have seen in the news, the situation in Lebanon is not getting any better. in fact, the bombing is getting closer and close to our area, and as you may see in the following email, my brother’n’law had to go and empty his clinic due to the close bombing around it. there is also an powerpoint presentation with some pictures of the situation there. BE WARNED!! IT IS VERY GRAPHIC! If you can’t take it, then please do not open the file: The Agressions against lebanon
Also, another graphic website: http://www.fromisraeltolebanon.info/ (again, please be warned about the graphical nature of the site… if you can’t see blood, dead people, etc … please don’t go there.

I have tried calling my parents this morning, but unfortunately, I am unable to get through, so I’m not really sure what is happening. My guess is that everyone is trying to contact their families in Lebanon that the phone lines are saturated. will update as soon as I have anything new.

UPDATE:

I just got hold of my parents over the phone. They seem to be at ease in their area. They are still able to find all resources (gas, food), though at sky rocketing prices. some of the gas is starting to be unavailable, but they are stocked up for a little while at least.
Some of my extended family have evacuated their houses to go to safer areas, as they are living on the outskirts of dangerous areas.
Other than that, everything is ok so far.

Following is the news from parents today:

As I promised, I am sending you a new description of our situation as of today…

As I said earlier, I did not come to Beirut yesterday because of the gasoline shortage, and there was no one coming to our office, so I thought I would stay home… in the afternoon, Pat received a phone call from the mall where his shop is that all the shop owners are emptying their shops including Mac Donald, the bank, and others because the shelling was very close (near Galerie Semman… just few 100 meters far) and part of the glass in the mall was broken, and the army from the casern in his area moved to the underground of that mall…  so, what we had to do is to rush there, and packed all his equipment, the eyeglasses and whatever we could carry, and brought them home… that reminded me of the old days when we used to rush, pack, load our goods and run away during the past 30 years of war!! You know, unfortunately I felt that I am becoming an expert in this job !!  As this operation was sort of dangerous, Micha was on the phone almost every 5 minutes just to check that we are still OK… once we came back home, and as she was so stressed, she collapsed with tears, and she started to breath heavily, so we were afraid that something wrong will happen to the baby… but thanks God, all went OK… attached you will see some photos of how we offloaded Pat’s goods in Aahed’s room !

This morning, while coming down, and just when I tipped down from the mountain side towards Beirut, the black smoke mixed with dust because of the shelling and the burning fuel tanks etc..  was filling the sky, the valleys up to the rim of the mountain… we could hardly see Beirut !!

Now, it is calm here in Beirut… I did not listen to the news this morning, but I assume there is no shelling on Dahyeh at this time…  I have forwarded to you some e-mails which I received from a friend in Holland that shows part of what is going on!!

This is all for today… and don’t expect any mails until Monday if we stay alive as I will not come to the office during the weekend…

Greetings to all at your side…..

 Here are some pictures from when my brother’n’law and my dad went to grab the equipment from the clinic:
Patrick checking out his equipment and some more... Need some glasses?  More optometry equipment Optometry equipment from the clinic

 Below, is an excerpt that gives a quick history of Beirut up to the situation today, it’s an interesting reading…

Paradise Lost

Robert Fisk’s Elegy for Beirut

The Independent
July 19, 2006

Elegant buildings lie in ruins. The heady scent of gardenias gives way to the acrid stench of bombed-out oil installations. And everywhere terrified people are scrambling to get out of a city that seems tragically doomed to chaos and destruction. As Beirut – ‘the Paris of the East’ – is defiled yet again

In the year 551, the magnificent, wealthy city of Berytus – headquarters of the imperial East Mediterranean Roman fleet – was struck by a massive earthquake. In its aftermath, the sea withdrew several miles and the survivors – ancestors of the present-day Lebanese – walked out on the sands to loot the long-sunken merchant ships revealed in front of them.

That was when a tidal wall higher than a tsunami returned to swamp the city and kill them all. So savagely was the old Beirut damaged that the Emperor Justinian sent gold from Constantinople as compensation to every family left alive.

How does this happen to Beirut? For 30 years, I’ve watched this place die and then rise from the grave and then die again, its apartment blocks pitted with so many bullets they looked like Irish lace, its people massacring each other.

I lived here through 15 years of civil war that took 150,000 lives, and two Israeli invasions and years of Israeli bombardments that cost the lives of a further 20,000 of its people. I have seen them armless, legless, headless, knifed, bombed and splashed across the walls of houses. Yet they are a fine, educated, moral people whose generosity amazes every foreigner, whose gentleness puts any Westerner to shame, and whose suffering we almost always ignore.

They look like us, the people of Beirut. They have light-coloured skin and speak beautiful English and French. They travel the world. Their women are gorgeous and their food exquisite. But what are we saying of their fate today as the Israelis – in some of their cruellest attacks on this city and the surrounding countryside – tear them from their homes, bomb them on river bridges, cut them off from food and water and electricity? We say that they started this latest war, and we compare their appalling casualties – 240 in all of Lebanon by last night – with Israel’s 24 dead, as if the figures are the same.

And then, most disgraceful of all, we leave the Lebanese to their fate like a diseased people and spend our time evacuating our precious foreigners while tut-tutting about Israel’s “disproportionate” response to the capture of its soldiers by Hizbollah.

I walked through the deserted city centre of Beirut yesterday and it reminded more than ever of a film lot, a place of dreams too beautiful to last, a phoenix from the ashes of civil war whose plumage was so brightly coloured that it blinded its own people. This part of the city – once a Dresden of ruins – was rebuilt by Rafiq Hariri, the prime minister who was murdered scarcely a mile away on 14 February last year.

The wreckage of that bomb blast, an awful precursor to the present war in which his inheritance is being vandalised by the Israelis, still stands beside the Mediterranean, waiting for the last UN investigator to look for clues to the assassination – an investigator who has long ago abandoned this besieged city for the safety of Cyprus.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Please keep my family and the Lebanese people in your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time.
 

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