This afternoon I accompanied my friend J. to his home in Haret Hreikh-- a neighborhood of Dahieyeh that sustained the most intense bombing in the southern suburbs. Taxis were already back on the roads, circumventing the rubble, and honking their horns to attract potential passengers. Despite the uncertain durability of the ceasefire, many people were returning to stay. Others came and discovered that there was nothing left of their homes; they were digging through the debris with their bare hands in search of salvageable items. Amongst the smoking mounds of concrete, the odd bookshelf, half a bed, or a rocking horse miraculously survived the impact of the bombs. I imagine the previously unretrievable bodies of the missing will soon be found amidst the tangle of iron rods, the wreckage of stone, crushed appliances and furniture.
All around Dahieyeh, the rubble was cordoned off with what looked like ordinary yellow police tape. Instead it read, "RESTRICTED AREA- NO TRESSPASSING. The Divine Victory." A fashion dummy, which had toppled out through the broken glass of a department store display dangled from the electricity wires by its synthetic hair. Another precariously rested on top of the cables.
Entire street blocks have been demolished, leaving clearings amidst the highrise tenements that resemble -—in size and magnitude-- the crater left by the World Trade center attacks. Some buildings were hit from the top and had collapsed in the conventional manner, as if sinking to their knees and doubling over. Other houses were destroyed from the bottom up, sustaining damage only to the lower half; 5-stories were intact on top of the wreckage of the lower 3-stories, surrounded by a massive deep gorge as if the explosion had taken place underground. Much of the paved roads were smashed, exposing the soil beneath. People were wearing protective masks; the stench of garbage, sulfur, burnt rubber, smoke, and what might have been undetected corpses or dead cats was unbearable.
J.'s house incurred damage only on the first day of the Israeli bombing, before the family had evacuated. The Israelis bombed a road approximately 150 meters from his house, and a sizeable chunk of concrete from the site catapulted in through the open balcony door into his bedroom. Luckily, J. was sleeping in his brother's room downstairs; the concrete slab landed right smack at the head of his bed, causing the whole thing to collapse. It would have crushed his face had he been sleeping there.