Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Thursday morning in Lebanese capital’s southern suburbs was very eventful. The highly populated area, known as Dahiyeh, awoke to the sound of Israeli military jets bombing the runaways of Beirut’s international airport, before the warships fired a “small” missile on al Manar TV, Hezbollah’s official station, deep inside the southern suburbs, in the Harat Hreik neighborhood, where most of the group’s security, political and media services are located.
Yet, despite the bombing, everyday life resumed as usual in Beirut, if a bit slower. Construction workers continued to work on their sites, seemingly undisturbed by the sound of anti-aircraft guns. Businesses were also open, especially in the service industry.
Dahiyeh extends from south of the capital to the region of Khalde and include rich neighborhoods, such as Harat Hreik, and populous poor areas, such as al Raml al Ali, Burj al Barajneh and Hay al Selloum. Although there are no exact statistics, it is believed that some 800 thousand people live there.
Inhabitants of the area had gone to sleep late on Wednesday, as some celebrated Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers. But Tel Aviv’s threats of bombing Beirut’s southern outskirts became reality in the afternoon… streets were empty and individuals exercised caution… some headed to petrol stations while others stocked up on foods and essentials in supermarkets.
The Yassin family was busy buying food, especially powdered milk, which will not go off if the electricity is cut off. “We have to be cautious. We hear that the siege has been imposed sea and air. We don’t know what could happen,” Hassan, the father said.
Not many people were seen leaving Dahiyeh throughout Thursday, despite Israel warnings. Most of the inhabitants are originally from Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa, which have both been targeted by Israeli jets. Only a select few left the southern suburbs, after securing “safe” accommodation north of the country or in the mountains. Yet, this small trickle of people was enough to create a traffic jam, all along the roads to Damascus and northern Lebanon.
Those who stayed, by choice or for lack of any alternative, remained at home, glued to their television, following the latest developments of Israel’s military campaign, and talking with pride on Hezbollah’s warning that it would fire missiles on Aka if the southern suburbs were hit.
With Hezbollah firing its “Raad-1” missiles, mythical stories about the rocket began circulating across Dahiyeh. But a senior official in the Party of God told Asharq al Awsat its arsenal included more powerful missiles. He indicated that “Raad- 1″ was stronger and more precise than the Katyusha rockets Hezbollah usually fires on northern Israel . He refused to discuss the missile’s origin, saying it was a “military secret”. “Perhaps Somalia,” he said jokingly.