We spend all day today in south Lebanon, which is not as badly destroyed as i had thought (sometimes it is a bit difficult to tell if a ruin is the result of the local culture of leaving lots of buildings unfinished or of an israeli air raid). Some of the villages seem more or less undamaged, while others look like it has been attempted to raze them from the ground for good. We spend some time in Bint Jebel, where the entire center of the the village is in ruins (the place saw intense house to house fighting during the war) and then went on to Khiam, to see (what is left of) the prison. I had been to the prison in khiam during my last trip so the destruction here was visually much more revealing as i had a pretty good memory of how the place looked one and a half years ago. Basically the entire prison is reduced to rubble (There is one cell block left). looks like this has been an convenient opportunity for the IDF to get rid of this rather dark episode of their history.
The only other visitors were a group of young fashionable men from beirut who were posing in the ruins with a hezbollah flag, which looked rather stupid given that about as likely to be hezbollah supporters as one is likely to find beer in Khiam. at some point it looked like they were actually trying to imitate a certain historical scene (which if memory does not deceive me was also fake), but i doubt they were aware of this:
For the rest the area is absolutely overcrowded with UN peacekeepers, who seem to have nothing better to do than drive water trucks through the narrow streets and go shopping. Not sure how this is supposed to help. Also the European Commission has embarked on repairing the street lights in the entire area, which they emphasize by putting up informative hoarding and putting stickers with the EU flag on every lamp post (pictures to follow, the upload speed here is horrible). This is of course against the background of schools, houses, roads and pretty much everything else needing repair. I wonder who sets the priorities at the EU and who seriously believes that stickers on lamp posts will give Europe a good name in this part of the world
Update: Pictures after the jump:
So apparently the European Commission has decided that the most urgent thing to do in South Lebanon is repairing the street lamps. i am not entirely sure if this prioritization does make much sense to the local population, they would probably be more happy with houses or schools being repaired or more resources dedicated to de-mining and disposal of unexploded cluster munitions. but then development/humanitarian aid is characterized by the fact that the donor sets the priorities and not those who are supposed to be in need of the help….
However in south lebanon the street-lamps come equipped with a poster of either Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah) Musa al-Sadr (Amal), the logo of either of the two organizations or the portrait of a resistance fighter fallen in combat. (‘martyr’ in the local lingo) not sure if the EU commission was aware of this fact before taking the decision to repair these very street lamps …
… and as the EU is very keen on showing all the god work they are doing, these very street-lamps now sport stickers of EU flags. gives you the impression that the EU is sponsoring the poles that hold the Hezbollah posters.