By Dahr Jamail
08 May, 2007
Inter Press Service
BEIRUT, May 7 (IPS)
- As reconstruction resumes in the heavily bombed southern
Beirut district Dahiyeh, the signs are evident of a rebuilding of resistance
against Israel and the U.S.-backed government, largely by way of increased
support for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is leading much of the reconstruction. Dahiyeh was bombed
by the Israelis last year because it was seen as a Hezbollah stronghold.
At least 15,000 houses were destroyed.
Many local people accuse
the U.S.-backed Lebanese government of refusal to help reconstruction
in pro-Hezbollah areas like Dahiyeh.
Foreign donors pledged more
than 7 billion dollars in aid and loans at a meeting in Paris in January
to help rebuild this nation of four million. Three of the biggest contributors
where the United States, France and Saudi Arabia. All three are seen
by the opposition as supporters of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and
his allies Saad Harriri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
Michel Samaha, who was minister
for information 1992-1995 and again 2003-2004, told IPS that Siniora,
Harriri and Jumblatt are seeking to strengthen themselves by "having
on their ruling agenda the priorities of the United States in Lebanon,
the priorities of the Zionists in the United States, and especially
the neo-cons in the Middle East."
The anger against such policies
is obvious in Shia areas.
"We've applied for help
through the government," 45-year-old Dahiyeh resident Mahmoud al-Khateib
told IPS at his electronics repair shop which was damaged by an Israeli
bomb. "They came and inspected the damage and said they would let
us know. We're still waiting."
Many people say money meant
for reconstruction is going elsewhere. "All the government cares
about is putting money in their own pockets," 18-year-old student
Ali Mohammed told IPS. "They don't care about us, just look around
you at this destruction, they are doing nothing for us."
Blocks and blocks of what
were ten-storey apartment buildings were completely levelled by Israeli
bombing. Empty craters is sometimes all that remains.
Hezbollah, led by Sayed Hassan
Nasrallah, has spearheaded post-war reconstruction in the suburb through
its NGO, Jihad al-Binaa. The organisation is well resourced, and has
a force of 1,500 engineers.
Hezbollah founded Jihad al-Binaa
in 1988 during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. The NGO took the role
of a kind of local municipality for the Shia community in the absence
of an effective government. It continues to do so.
Jihad al-Binaa is one of
a number of foundations run by Hezbollah. Others also deliver services
normally provided by governments, such as healthcare and education.
Hezbollah says the group is funded through religious charitable donations
such as zakat and the Shia Muslim system of hummous, through which Shias
donate a percentage of their incomes.
Hezbollah acted quickly after
the bombings ended in August last year, offering 12,000 dollars to each
family who had lost their house. It undertook reconstruction work directly
for those most in need.
Officials loyal to Prime
Minister Siniora accused Hezbollah of acting as a "state within
a state." In its response delivered on Al-Manar TV which it owns,
Hezbollah officials lashed out at "the absent state."
Within two weeks of the ceasefire
last year, Hezbollah said the government planners "still have no
contingency plans for reconstruction in the south or in Dahiyeh."
That has remained largely the picture since then.
Residents agree, and their
sentiment has translated into increasing respect and support for Hezbollah.
Israeli officials had hoped the attacks would destroy support for the
"Eight months after
the war nobody in the government has yet come even to inspect the damage
to my home," Jihad Brahim, a 40-year-old member of the Lebanese
Army told IPS as he stood near a pile of rubble under a half-destroyed
building. "Look at this rubble, it would take a bulldozer 15 minutes
to clear this, but it's still here."
Brahim added, "Everyone
in my building has a year's worth of support from Hezbollah, and they
are also carrying out reconstruction. Hezbollah is much stronger now,
and all of us respect them so much more. I pray that Nasrallah lives
a long life."
"The government is giving
us nothing, while Hezbollah is doing a great job for us," 22- year-old
electrician Hussein Shara'a told IPS. "Even with all this work
still to be done, we can live with any difficulty, because the important
thing is that we won the war."
The suburb is dotted with
countless green and yellow banners of Jihad al-Binaa. They read, 'Carrying
On. Together We Resist. Together We Rebuild'.
Mahmoud Rahman has been driving
a taxi for 30 years. He bought an apartment with his savings, but his
house was almost destroyed by an Israeli bomb.
"I never had a problem
with America before, but because of their backing of Israel my life
is destroyed," he told IPS. "All my kids hate America. Is
this their democracy? If it is, we're better off without it."
Al-Fadl Shalaq, former head
of the Development and Reconstruction Council, a body formed by former
prime minister Rafik al-Hariri who was assassinated in February 2005,
says the damage suffered by Lebanon during the Israeli onslaught exceeded
that during the 1975-1990 Civil War between extremist Muslim and Christian
it! And spread the word!
Here is a unique chance to help this article to be read by thousands
of people more. You just Digg it, and it will appear in the home page
of Digg.com and thousands more will read it. Digg is nothing but an
vote, the article with most votes will go to the top of the page. So,
as you read just give a digg and help thousands more to read this article.
here to comment
on this article