Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- The leaflets that Israeli planes dropped over Beirut on Thursday, in which it called on the residents of Shiah, Burj al Barajneh and Hay al Sollom to flee their homes before it extends its operation, had an immediate effect. Residents had not yet forgotten the massacre committed by Israeli in Shiah late last week, when its warplanes targeted a residential building, killing 56 people sheltering there.
Remaining residents could be seen carrying their personal belongings on Thursday and leaving the southern suburbs, in search of shelter in schools, already teeming with refugees or public gardens, across Beirut. The lucky ones were transported on special buses from the Higher Relief Committee to centers for the displaced in the Lebanese capital.
Bassam, aged 35, decided to stay behind, “I can’t leave my house and shop for the unknown… I have decided to stay. God help us.”
“My brother’s tire shop was targeted two days ago and we have lost more than 20 thousand dollars but I am not leaving,” he added.
Others disagreed and left their homes as fast they could. This area of Beirut had been previously sparred the destruction heaped on nearby Haret Hareik, a Hezbollah stronghold.
Imad, a father of three and manager of an electronics store, lives in an old building. He left his house, fearing it would collapse from the force of explosives nearby.
For his part, Hossam, who owns a small repair shop, decided to stay but sent his wife and young daughter to the relative safety of his brother’s house in Iqlim al Kharoub. He remained behind trying to make a living. “If we don’t work, we don’t eat, If my brother is sheltering my family, I can’t be a burden on him.”
By late Thursday evening, most people had left the southern suburbs, which are estimated to be home to more than 800,000 Lebanese, mostly Shiaa, whose loyalty is split between Hezbollah and the Amal movement.
While Hezbollah’s stronghold has been pounded with bombs for the last month, the Amal area was spared, until yesterday.