Lebanon’s Government Is Destroying A Phoenician Beach In Adloun To Build A Port

  
About 15 minutes south of Saida is a small coastal Lebanese town in the South called Adloun. Most of us hadn’t heard of it before, but it’s actually one of the longest inhabited areas in our country with evidence pointing to human activity there around 70,000BC; it’s a little town filled with prehistoric caves and Phoenician ruins.

And those are not even what make it special.

Being a coastal town, Adloun has one of the few remaining beaches in the area that have not been privatized yet, and is now being actively destroyed by Lebanon’s government.

According to this study, the governmental project will affect the following areas of the beach:

  • The location of the prehistoric caves,
  • The location of an ancient Phoenician port,
  • The location of ancient Phoenician ruins and ornaments.

And, because that is not enough, our government will also do a little of land reclamation, effectively killing off one of the last remaining habitats for sea turtles in Lebanon, as well as affecting the ecology of the entire area with its diverse plants.

What is this governmental project that our government has been hell-bent for years to do, and are currently doing as you can see by the following pictures?

They are building a port that is bigger than that of Saida and Sour, in a town that houses far less people, none of whom are fishermen who operate boats in the first place.

So what will the purpose of that port be? It’s going to be turned into a “touristic” yacht docking site for those who can afford yachts in the first place and who want to come to the area for visits. The town’s mayor says that is not the case. What is true, however, is that the port is officially named after “Nabih Berri.” Maybe our speaker of parliament wants a place closer to home to dock his boat?

As it is with Lebanon, the project is also riddled with corruption. The bidding process for the project was canceled once because the initial prices were deemed unacceptable before finally hiring Khoury Contracting at a fee around 1.66 million dollars higher than the one they offered in the initial bidding. I guess the ministry in question felt generous?

On January 15th, 2016, Khoury Contracting sent its bulldozers to the beach and started work without prior notification. They’re currently establishing access to the beach by digging up a road for more bulldozers to come and finish what’s already started.

Who Cares About Sea Turtles And Phoenician Stuff Anyway?

Good job Lebanon’s government. Those sea turtles can always find another country to go and become unwanted pests in. Those plants? Who needs them. It’s not like ecology or the environment matter anyway. Phoenicia? Do we really want some Lebanese to further cling to that unwanted part of our history?

Keeping a free beach for the people of the area to visit? Who’d want that as well, bring in the money!

Let them destroy the beach. Let them destroy everything as they’ve done to the country for years now. They’ve actively destroyed countless similar sites before, why not this one too? It’s not like anything is relevant when you have the prospects of a port named after a politician!

Let them destroy the beach. It’s better for that beach and for that heritage not to see how abysmal the country our ancestors called home has become à la famous saying: عين لا ترى، قلب لا يوجع.

For a government that has shown repeatedly how apt it is at failing, it should come as no wonder that they’d not only do such a thing but also make sure that it passes by unnoticed. 

For a government and people that went up in a fit about the destruction of heritage at the hands of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, how is this any difference? Or does our own history not matter enough because it’s not called Palmyra?

There has been no back to back coverage for Adloun’s heritage. Is it not juicy enough for Lebanon’s media because it cannot be spun into attractive بالصور and بالفيديو headlines?

Among the many travesties taking place in the country today, this is a massacre of heritage and environment. The sad part is? It’s too late to do anything now.

Say bye to the turtles; say bye to that ancient site. They were present in a country that didn’t deserve them anyway. 

 

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Remembering The Little Children Terrorists of Qana

Because not remembering the woes and wounds of this nation is part of why we are where are today, I present to you a guest post by my good friend Hala Hassan.

Qana Lebanon Massacre 1996

It was April of 1996. I was a 6 year old girl, growing increasingly scared of a month where I’d wake up to rockets getting fired every single day from the neighboring tanks over the hill and warplanes constantly raping the sky above my house.

Operation Grapes of Wrath was getting scarier, deadlier, more ominous by the minute. Just another regular day of a Southerner back then.

Random memory #1: Zaven, who currently runs a TV show on Future TV, was a news anchor then who, along with his co-anchor short haired Zahira Harb (I don’t know where she is now or what she does), were distinctive figures in my 6 year old memory.

Random memory #2: a man sitting on a plastic chair, head dangling to one side, blood and broken glass everywhere.

My memory of that spring is as vivid as if it were happening now. I can still remember all details of Thursday April 18th and the crystal clear images showing death and horror at every turn.

I remember the faces of UNIFIL soldiers crying and shouting, overwhelmed with the shock, ramble and fire.

The news was shocking. An Israeli raid targeted without any hesitation whatsoever a compound of UNIFIL forces in the Sourthern village of Qana where families had sought refuge, most of which were elderly, kids and women.

Yes it was a massacre, a crime against humanity: flesh and blood melting into the steel, splashed body tissues and fluids on the walls, dismantled and disfigured corpses, beheaded babies, pools of flesh merging into impossibly differentiated individuals.

The Cruelty was caught on tape and registered in minds, reinforced by the sorrow of those who survived and shock.

The whole country was in shock. No excuse could have been given, no excuse would have been accepted and will ever be.

I haven’t seen bigger funerals than the one carrying the victims of Qana to their final resting place. A sea of black, of arms swaying in sorrow under coffins each of which held entire families, their bodies burned together. More than a hundred souls were taken in fraction of seconds. Dreams were blown into little pieces lying together in common graves.

It took me 9 years to make peace with newspapers. My older sister used the idea of Qana newspaper pictures as a way to scare me for years. That’s how childhood in South Lebanon went. I envy the kids who grew up scared of boogeyman.

I know that massacres take place every day around the world, today more than ever, neighboring countries more than distant ones. Civil wars or terrorist attacks, respect goes to every innocent soul in this world that is lost intentionally or as collateral damage in conflicts they may not want to be part of.

Everything feels more intense and more important when it’s personal, which Qana – to me – undoubtedly is, but the point behind all of this is that terrorism has no nationality, no color and no ethnicity.

Recognize the terrorists. It is never too late to be fair.

Happy Liberation Day, Lebanon?

I remember May 25th 2000, 12 years ago, when I came back home all giddy with them letting us off from school early. We had heard whispers at school: “The Israelis have left…. the South is ours again.”

I felt happy. I felt proud of my country. Even though I had never been to the South, I felt liberated.

So today, I salute all the readers of my blog who come from South Lebanon, however few they may be. Blame it on my political stance that drastically differs from theirs. I salute all those who fought for Lebanon’s freedom from Israel before that fight started being used for political gains here and there. I salute all the martyrs that died in the process of trying to take back every inch of Lebanese land.

But today, 12 years later, I can honestly say Liberation Day has lost some of its flavor to me. Not because of current political reasons, not because I utterly hate the political party which led to that day but because it reminds me that my own occupation is nowhere near to be acknowledged.

April 26th…. That day I saw the Syrian army trucks leaving my land, hopefully to no return. That day I saw my mom shed a tear as she drew a sigh of relief – the horror has gone. That day I saw my grandfather smile like a child as he breathed for the first time in his Syrian army-free hometown.

When will Lebanon truly admit that Israel and the South weren’t the only entities in the country occupied for years? When will we admit that Northerners and people from Mount Lebanon struggled almost as much as people in the South?

When will we admit that your “brother” becoming your enemy is much more dangerous than a stranger enemy with whom you barely have anything in common?

Today, May 25th is another day that reminds me of Lebanese hypocrisy, of how the deaths of those that fought to get the Syrian army off my land, prior to the Rafic Hariri assassination era, are all looked down upon: a bunch of traitors who aren’t worthy of being acknowledged.

And it makes me sad, really, that on a day where I should be happy for my country’s sake I can’t but feel sadness for the memory of those who fought for liberation and don’t have a day to remember their struggles.

You can’t understand liberation unless you’ve been under occupation.

May 25th, I’d salute you when you salute April 26th.

Winter in Lebanon: Snowy Landscapes from the Recent Snowstorm

After posting a few pictures of a trip I took to the Cedars, I figured I’d help show another side of Lebanon that most people don’t get to see (especially tourists). And what better side to show than the one showcased by the recent snowstorm?

I did not take these pictures. I got them, after permission, from the Lebanon Weather Facebook page. I’ll try to go on a roadtrip around the Batroun area soon to take pictures. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, we present:

Zahle

Anjar

Assia, a village at 700 m of altitude in Batroun

The Chouf

The view from Hasroun, in the Bcharre Caza

Jezzine

Kawkaba, in South Lebanon

Knise Moutain in the Metn region

South Lebanon

Toula, in North Lebanon

West Bekaa

West Bekaa, again

And this is a picture my friend Firas took of the Cedar Mountains from his hometown in Koura:

The Cedar Mountains from afar

And people ask me why I’m “hating” on Zaitunay Bay when it’s getting all the attention and scenes like these are getting ignored. I guess that’s the way things are – you have money and power, you get noticed.