On October 24, 2023, as Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants continued to exchange fire in south Lebanon, I returned to the Lebanon-Israel border.
This was my second visit to the border since I arrived in Lebanon on October 18. (The report of my first visit to the border can be found here.) I was accompanied again by a Lebanese-Canadian guide, Nada Raphaël, and a driver from south Lebanon.
We began our journey by driving from Beirut to the southern coastal city of Tyre. From there, we drove inland toward the Lebanese village of Rmaich, which sits less than one kilometre from the border with Israel. Rmaich appears in the lower right-hand corner of the map below, just south of the Al Anaya Hospital.
After leaving Tyre and before arriving at Rmaich, we stopped in the village of Qana. Qana’s population of about 10,000 people is predominantly Shi’a Muslim. The village is situated twelve kilometres north of the Lebanon-Israel border.
Israel’s military has committed two massacres in Qana, one in 1996 and another in 2006. In the first of these atrocities, Israeli forces deliberately shelled a United Nations compound in Qana, killing over 100 civilians (of whom half were children) and wounding hundreds more. These civilians had sought refuge at the compound after Israeli forces starting bombing their villages as part of “Operation Grapes of Wrath”.
The Israeli commander who called in the artillery barrage was Naftali Bennett. Bennett recently served as Prime Minister of Israel. Years after the Qana massacre, Bennett stated “I’ve killed many Arabs in my life, and there is no problem with that”.
On October 13, several days after Israel launched its latest killing spree in Gaza, Bennett threw a tantrum on British television. In a Sky News interview, the anchor asked Bennett about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza’s hospitals following Israel’s imposition of a total blockade on the devastated enclave. In response, Bennett ranted “Are you seriously – keep asking me about Palestinian civilians? What is wrong with you? Have you not seen what’s happened? We’re fighting Nazis!”
On October 24, while visiting the site of the Qana massacre, I interviewed a 55-year old survivor of the bombing. He said he is not afraid of the looming war with Israel and called for Arab peoples to unite to defend the Palestinian people.
The video of that interview appears below. In the days ahead, I’ll publish further reports of my second visit to the Lebanon-Israel border.