Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Aita al-Shaab 2006

One year ago I travelled with photographer Guy Smallman to the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab. We interviewed locals and fighters about the ferocious battles between the resistance and Israeli troops that had taken place during the July war.

My report was published in Socialist Worker.

There is one memory that remains with me. When the Israeli troops abandoned their positions on the edge of the town they left their supply of bottled mineral water—most of it was still cold.

As the town was cut off for over a month, and water was desperately short, it was a godsend for the survivors. Did the soldiers leave the water as a humanitarian gesture? One of the locals seemed to think so. If any of the Israeli soldiers who were involved in the battle reads this I would be interested to know if there is any truth to the story.

The picture above is of a civilian car hit by shrapnel on the edge of the town. It is one of a series taken by Guy of the war.

I have learnt that Guy spent the anniversary of the war under interrogation by the US Department of Homeland Security when he was returning from covering the elections in Mexico. I'm sure he was not too hard on them.


Christian said...

Hi Simon

I personally doubt the Israeli soldiers left the water for locals. I suspect it was more a case of military pragmatism in the sense that why should they bother making the effort to take the water back with them.

Nice blog. Keep it up

Lebanese socialist said...

Ah yes... but still it would be good to know.

Anonymous said...

I know this is about 2 years to late for this post, but christian's post is essentially the harsh truth. I was an IDF soldier in this battle and the water was simply left behind so we wouldn't have to schlep it back.

I'm happy to hear the civilian population was able to take advantage of it. On a similar note, military needs oftentimes lead to what can be perceived as simple vandalism or hostility, such as the toilet bags we left in the houses.

Lebanese Socialist said...

Dear Anon,
In a way I'm sorry to hear about the water... I guess it understandable to look for that kind of gesture amid the madness.

I would love to hear about your experiences of the battle. (Without imposing on you).

As you can imagine I only got a chance to speak to one side.

Many regards