The Hezballah rubble tour of Beirut
Every morning, visiting journalists gather at a bombed-out roadside cafe in southern Beirut to be escorted by Hezbollah operatives through a bewildering wasteland that used to house 50,000 people.It looks like Israel had pretty good intelligence on where Hezballah's visible assets were located. It does need to get a handle on where Hezballah gets its scooter fleet. I have seen other stories that also indicate that Christian Lebanon has not suffered any damage. These are areas whose contempt for Hezballah is probably as great as it is in Israel or the US. I would guess that Israel would have no difficulty getting information about the situation in Lebanon from these areas too.
Mountains of rubble that once were shops and apartment buildings -- including the home of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah -- line the streets of the Dahiyah neighborhood. This was also the headquarters of Hezbollah's Al Manar television, which is now broadcasting from a secret location.
A week after Israeli F-16s dropped 23 tons of explosives on the neighborhood -- which was hit by another 20 Israeli rockets late yesterday -- the ruins have become a familiar backdrop for photographers and television cameras.
The photogenic skeletons of nine-story apartment buildings strung with dangling electrical wires have given the world the image of a shattered city, and Hezbollah is making the most of it.
Indeed, across the Hezbollah-dominated Shi'ite regions of southern Lebanon, whole villages have been flattened, almost 400 people killed and hundreds of thousands more displaced.
But just north of Beirut, business remains strong in the lush resorts of the nearby Shouf Mountains. Nightclubs in the Christian suburb of Jounieh still rock to '80s disco and '90s Eurobeat, and Lebanese who weathered the country's horrific 15-year civil war still sip arrack and eat hummus late into the night.
Beirut, once the jewel of the Middle East, is wobbling back to its feet even as the Israeli army and air force pulverize its southern region.
In the Hamra area, home to students and the campus of the prestigious American University of Beirut, more shops reopen and traffic grows heavier by the day. Hotels that emptied at the beginning of Israel's assault on July 12 are raising rates again, even though most of the guests are foreign journalists.
In the Achrafiyeh neighborhood, which is predominantly Christian and Sunni, streets are peaceful and increasingly busy. The fabled night life, with its restaurants and nightclubs, is likely to pick up again by the weekend.
But in the glamorously rebuilt city center, shops selling luxury brands are not just closed, but swept clean. Fearing air strikes, the owners have taken the diamonds out of Cartier and the speakers from Bang & Olufsen. Even the mannequins have been removed for safekeeping.