Deathly Silence in Deserted Beirut

5042_1.jpgA deathly silence prevails in southern Beirut, as Lebanese people are evacuating to escape Israeli bombs. Hezbollah has the region under tight control to prevent infiltration by Israeli agents. Guerillas search journalists’ clothes and pockets, warning them to be quick in their excursions out on the battered city streets.

 There are currently no signs of life in the town of Harat Ahrik, where 100,000 people used to live just two weeks ago.

 The scent of gunpowder permeates the streets.

 Hezbollah security forces on patrol warn the photojournalists and cameramen to only take pictures of the buildings.

 Journalists entering the area are asked to turn off their mobile phones and remove their batteries.

 Israeli planes can reportedly launch missiles by zeroing in on mobile phone signals, making the Hezbollah militia, who remain in the region, an open target. This area is bombed daily, Hezbollah authorities note.

 Wandering among the wreckage, the eerie silence in the town is only disturbed by Israeli war planes passing now and then.

 Belongings scattered here and there among the ruined buildings immediately catch the eye. Some left their toys behind, while others abandoned their valuable belongings in the rush to escape.

 Hezbollah authorities say many of these personal belongings were dropped during the evacuation scuffle, with their owners unwilling to offer a glance back.

 

Burned Quranic pages dispersed in the street also attract notice. Almost all the buildings in the south have been struck by missiles. Some are totally destroyed, while others bear the scars of rockets and missiles.

 

Hezbollah authorities speak of another building that was heavily bombed in the south of the capital.

 

This building, reportedly a Hezbollah headquarters, was bombed by Israel on the assumption that top level authorities may be seeking refuge there.

 

Nearly 23 tons of explosives were dropped on the building. Hezbollah says none of their leaders died in the attack, and the building hit was a mosque under construction. In addition to Beirut’s southern quarters, Israel hit the city harbor and a lighthouse yesterday.

 

Meanwhile, Turkish citizens in Beirut continue to evacuate the city.

 

A convoy of 75 people lastly set off by bus, and authorities from the embassy state a 450-person capacity ferry will carry the remaining Turkish citizens to safety on Monday.

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