Residents of southern Lebanon continue their work regardless of Israeli bombardment
At the small falafel restaurant he owns in southern Lebanon, Hussein Mortada prepares sandwiches for a few customers while an Israeli spy plane flies over the nearly deserted border town of Kafr Gila.
Hussain Mortada, 60, whose head and beard are gray as he boils oil before throwing falafel seeds in his small restaurant, said, “A few days ago the shell fell about 200 meters from here. A fragment reached the front of the shop and here on the wall, I hid behind the refrigerator.”
The sound of shelling can be clearly heard in the town, which is surrounded by olive fields. Most of the streets are deserted, and some neighborhoods facing the Galilee resemble a ghost town after its residents have been displaced.
But Hussain Mortada is determined to stay in his town and continue to open his restaurant in front of the few cars that pass through, including ambulances.
He confirms to Agence France-Presse: “Here we are bombarded, working, we will not close. We feed everyone who is hungry, those who have money and those who don’t. This is Jihad for the sake of God.”
The border region in southern Lebanon has seen an ugly military escalation between Israel and Hezbollah since the Palestinian Hamas movement launched an unprecedented surprise attack into Israel on October 7, which it responded with devastating bombing and ground operations in the Gaza Strip.
Hezbollah, which has no visible military presence in the Lebanese border area, mainly conducts daily operations against Israeli military targets near the border, placing it within the framework of supporting the Gaza Strip and “supporting its resistance”.
Israel retaliates by bombing areas along the border that it describes as “movements of Hezbollah fighters” and its facilities near the border. Recently, the intensity of the bombings has increased, causing extensive destruction in some neighborhoods of the southern border villages.
The escalation in southern Lebanon resulted in the deaths of at least 140 people in Lebanon, including around 100 Hezbollah fighters and at least 17 civilians, including 3 journalists.
11 people including 6 soldiers were killed on the Israeli side.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 64,000 people have been displaced in Lebanon, most of them in the south.
In a report released on Tuesday, the United Nations Development Program said the conflict had led to “huge material losses”, affecting homes, shops, infrastructure and services, particularly in border villages.
“Economic activities and local businesses were disrupted, or forced to close their doors or relocate,” the report added.
At the gas station he owns at the entrance to the border town of Taybeh in southern Lebanon, hit by Israeli bombing and whose mayor was killed in a shelling on December 11, Ali Mansour waits on customers braving the daily bombardment. and leave their homes.
However, he insists, “Until the explosion is far away, we work for our livelihood.”
“A small number of residents have left the village, but we are still here because, as they say, things are under control,” says this fifty-year-old man in front of his only source of gas, a gas station. Livelihood.
Standing in front of the Israeli town of Miskav Am on the other side of the border, but and and the sound of a drone flying through the air could be clearly heard: “We are facing We wouldn’t be here if we were afraid. But we are concerned when the Israelis start using phosphorus bombs.
Lebanese authorities and international human rights organizations have accused Israeli forces of using phosphorus bombs during shelling of Lebanese border areas.
But Mansoor insists: “We are on our land.” Sure the population is low now, but those with livelihoods will continue to do so.
In the neighboring town of Al-Atisa, the small restaurant where Ahmed Turab (23 years old) works served hamburgers to residents until last week.
He narrates: “Since the start of the war until now, we have not left,” but last week, “like every day, we opened the restaurant, Hussein, the young man who helps me at work, came, and we heard a very strong blow.
He explains: “The first shell landed in front of the restaurant and two behind the restaurant, and Hussain was wounded in the leg by shrapnel.”
Ahmed Durab had no choice but to leave his village, which was now almost deserted.
For his part, Abbas Ali Balbaki remained in his city, but was forced to close the small printing press he had.
“If the war lasts for ten months or a year, I won’t leave,” he says, watching news of bombings targeting border villages on his cellphone in the main al-Atisa square opposite al-Hussainiyya.
“Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert.”