'Everything In My Life Is Destroyed, So I Will Fight Them'
By Dahr Jamail
Clearing House" - --
"I am in Hezbollah because I care," the fighter, who agreed to the
interview on condition of anonymity, told me. "I care about my
people, my country, and defending them from the Zionist aggression."
I jotted furiously in my note pad while sitting in the back seat of
his car. We were parked not far from Dahaya, the district in
southern Beirut which is being bombed by Israeli warplanes as we
The sounds of bombs echoed off the buildings of the capital city of
Lebanon yesterday afternoon. Out the window, I watched several
people run into the entrance of a business center, as if that would
provide them any safety.
The member of Hezbollah I was interviewing-let's call him Ahmed-has
been shot three times during previous battles against Israeli forces
on the southern Lebanese border. His brother was killed in one of
these battles. It's been several years since his father was killed
by an air strike in a refugee camp.
"My home now in Dahaya is pulverized, so Hezbollah gave me a place
to stay while this war is happening," he said, "When this war ends,
where am I to go? What am I to do? Everything in my life is
destroyed now, so I will fight them."
That explains why earlier in the day, when driving me around, he'd
stopped at an apartment to change into black clothing-a black
t-shirt and black combat pants, along with black combat boots.
A tall, stocky man, Ahmed seemed always exhausted and angry.
"I didn't have a future," he continued while the concussions of
bombs continued, "But now, Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of this
country and her people. My family has lived in Lebanon for 1,500
years, and now we are all with him. He has given us belief and hope
that we can push the Zionists out of Lebanon, and keep them out
forever. He has given me purpose."
"Do you think this is why so many people now, probably over two
million here in Lebanon alone, follow Nasrallah?" I asked.
"Hezbollah gives you dignity, it returns your dignity to you," he
replied, "Israel has put all of the Arab so-called leaders under her
foot, but Nasrallah says 'No more.'"
He paused to wipe the sweat from his forehead. The summer heat in
Beirut drips with humidity. During the afternoon, my primary impulse
is to find a fan and curl up for a nap under its gracious movement
of the thick air here.
Earlier he'd driven me to one of the larger hospitals in Beirut
where I photographed civilian casualties. All of them were tragic
cases but one really grabbed me-that of a little 8 year-old girl,
lying in a large bed. She was on her side, with a huge gash down the
right side of her face and her right arm wrapped in gauze. She was
hiding in the basement of her home with 12 family members when they
were bombed by an Israeli fighter jet.
Her father was in a room downstairs with both of his legs blown off.
Her other family members were all seriously wounded. She lay there
whimpering, with tears streaming down her face.
I think I won Ahmed's trust after that. I walked out the car, got in
and sat down. He asked me where I wanted to go now.
Ahmed put his hand on my shoulder and said, "This is what I've been
seeing for my entire life. Nothing but pain and suffering."
A photographer from Holland who was working with me was able to
respond to Ahmed that maybe we could go have a look at Dahaya.
Ahmed had told me that it was currently extremely dangerous for a
journalist to try to go into Dahaya. Before, Hezbollah had run tours
for people to come see the wreckage generated by Israeli air
strikes. All you had to do was meet under a particular bridge at 11
a.m., and you had a guided tour from "party guys" (members of
Hezbollah) into what has become a post-apocalyptic ghost town.
A couple of days ago I went there, without the "party guy" tour. A
friend and I were driven in by a man we hired for the day to take us
around. I was shocked at the level of destruction-in some places
entire city blocks lay in rubble. At one point we came upon the
touring journalists, all scurrying to their vehicles. Everyone was
in a panic.
"What's going on?," I asked our driver. "A party guy who is a
spotter said he saw Israeli jets coming," he responded, while
spinning the van around and punching the gas as we sped past the
journalists lugging their cameras while running back to their
While driving we were passed by several Hezbollah fighters riding
scooters. Each had his M-16 assault rifle slung across his back and
wore green ammunition pouches across his chest.
Ahmed told me he'd captured two Israeli spies himself. "One of them
is a Lebanese Jewish woman, and she had a ring she could talk into,"
he explained as new sweat beads began to form on his forehead,
"Others are posing as journalists and using this type of paint to
mark buildings to be bombed."
I doubt the ring part, and also wonder about the feasibility of
paint used for targeting, but there are no doubt spies crawling all
over Beirut. In Iraq, mercenaries often pose as journalists, making
it even more dangerous than it already was for us to work there.
Nevertheless, war always fosters paranoia. Whom can you trust? What
if they are a spy? What are their motives? Why do they want to ask
me this question at this time? These types of questions become
constant I my mind, and so many others in this situation where
normal life is now a thing of the past. I think they are some sort
of twisted survival mechanism.
We drove back near my hotel and parked again. People strolled by on
the sidewalks. Ahmed said, "I will never be a slave to the United
States or Israel."
(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are
protected by United States and international copyright law. If you
would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to
include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com
website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media
http://jeffpflueger.com . More writing, commentary, photography,
pictures and images at