This interview, taken from Tragedy in South Lebanon, is with a Hezbollah fighter
I am from Bint Jbeil, a village three miles north of the Israeli border. According to my grandfather our hilltop village overlooking northern Israel was established by the Phoenicians thousands of years ago when they migrated from Jbeil (Byblos), north of what is today Beirut. Bint Jbeil, by the way, means “Daughters of Byblos.” And did you know that the word “Bible” comes from Byblos?
Bint Jbeil is called the capital of Hezbollah. It is unfair, in my opinion, to refer to it as a Hezbollah stronghold, as if this was a crime, without fully understanding why and how all of South Lebanon, and Bint Jbeil in particular, became a place of resistance. For twenty years we lived under Israeli occupation, that is to say, Israeli occupation of Lebanese land, approximately fifteen percent of Lebanon.
I remember the exact moment I decided to join the resistance movement. I was fifteen years old. The year was 1985. My father was herding his cows when Israeli troops entered Bint Jbeil. They came into his field and shot him in the head without any provocation. He was not even carrying a gun. He was simply in his village on his own land in South Lebanon, tending his cows.
Because I was young and agile I was one of several young men assigned to observe Israeli troop movement. I did nothing else. Wherever they were I found a way to sneak up close enough to watch and mentally record everything they did. When they arose in the morning; what they ate for breakfast; where they carried out their patrols; how many soldiers participated and in which direction they traveled. I vividly remember one particular mission. It was a challenge because I had to carry it out alone. At the same time I felt privileged to be asked to undertake such a difficult task. It was crucial at this particular moment in time that we know everything the Israelis were doing and when and where they were doing it. I stood in a cold stream south of the village, hidden in brush, not moving, for three days. When it was safe to move so as to report what I had observed, I couldn’t walk. My feet were frostbitten from the freezing water so I crawled back to the village to give my report. I was in terrible pain but I didn’t care. I was willing to die if necessary to rid my village of Israeli soldiers. My strength came from the brave people of Bint Jbeil who abhorred injustice. It was not something any of them practiced toward their neighbors and they believed that no one should act unjustly toward them. But more than anything they held a deep moral certainly of what was fair and right.
I will never forget the battle of Bint Jbeil. When the Israeli troops entered they probably assumed they were entering a deserted village because there was no visible sign of life. We watched the soldiers enter the village. We knew ahead of time from which direction they would be entering. As I said before, one of our greatest strengths was that we knew everything about them and they seemingly knew so little about us. When they came into the empty marketplace we ambushed them from three sides. I was in no position to know how many people were left in the village when the battle began but I can tell you that before it ended many of them suddenly appeared with their machine guns and rifles and began firing on the soldiers. They were mad. The previous two days Israeli war planes had destroyed much of their village. They fought to defend what was left and were prepared to die if necessary. This energy created a powerful force, one that eventually drove Israeli troops from our village and the whole of South Lebanon.
This book is available for purchase here.