Back to PLO Bulletin 1-15 September 1979


Lebanese family in Nabatiyeh point out the place in front of their
house where one of their children was killed by a shell
Displacement of people in the Middle East is a result of politics, with specific political aims behind it. In 1948 in Palestine, the aim was the usurpation of Palestine, to take a land "without people" for the Zionists to settle on. In Lebanon during the civil war, the aim of the rightist isolationists was the rearrangement of the demographic distribution in a way that preserves their ghetto by excluding "Moslems", in fact any patriotic groups, whether Moslems or Christians. The displacement of patriotic forces from the Lebanese border region (controlled by Major Sa'ad Haddad, Israel's puppet) has aimed at establishing a security belt along the border of Israel so that the latter may have a free hand in hitting the Lebanese and Palestinians in the rest of the South in an attempt to hit at the solidarity between the two Arab peoples and at their steadfastness.


Peasant family near Nabatiyeh in fron of their
shattered house
One million persons have been displaced in Lebanon since the beginning of the Civil War, i.e. one third of the Lebanese population. Among them we have 300,000 displaced persons from Karantina, Maslakh, Naba'a, Tal al Zaatar, Sin el-Fil, and Dekwana, who were expelled from East Beirut during the two year war. The number of those who have been displaced from the border strip - from Shaba'a to Nakoura - is 150,000 persons. In the rest of South Lebanon Israel has been using a scorched-earth policy, escalating its acts of aggression against the people in the region as part of the strategy for an imperialist Middle East settlement charted under the auspices of the U.S. at Camp David. Bombardment has not stopped for even a day since April 10. Israeli artillery has been shelling Lebanese villages and towns and Palestinian camps with U.S.-made 105 mm, 155 mm, 175 mm, 203 mm artillery and fragmentation shells, while gunboats and U.S.-supplied Israeli F-5 and F-15 planes have pounded civilian concentrations with napalm, cluster bombs and missiles.


As a result, 600,000 citizens have fled the Israeli terror, surviving at present under extremely dangerous conditions. At least 5,000 houses have been destroyed. Many villages have been demolished, such as al-Khiam (1000 houses destroyed), Taibeh (700 houses), Haneen (190 houses), Rashaf (200 houses) and al-Chandouriah (60 houses). The rest of the towns and villages in the South have suffered extreme damage and destruction.

1,000 DEAD, 3,000 WOUNDED

Some 1,000 people have died and 3,000 have been wounded due to the continuous Israeli war of aggression against the South. Most of these were unarmed civilians. Now, most of the villages and towns of the South are almost deserted. Their inhabitants have left them for more 'secure' places.

Lebanese child wounded during Israeli
shelling of Tyre, at Palestine Red Crescent
hospital in Sidon, August 24, 1979
Where do these refugees go? They are found all over Lebanon, but mostly in Sidon, which is considered the nearest "safe" refuge. Sidon's population is officially estimated 50,000, but the city is crowded now with 150,000 persons, in addition to 15,000 in the near-by camps and 50,000 refugees, which brings Sidon's total number of inhabitants to 275,000 persons.

During the "Fitr" feast, alone, between 23-25 August, 15,000 families fled the Israeli bombardment, most of them coming from the southern port of Tyre. Every school, monastery and garage in Sidon is crowded with refugees from the South.


In al-Islah School alone, 58 families are living under extremely bad conditions. As we entered the schoolyard, children and women gathered around us, shouting in fury: "No one wants to help us, so we don't want anyone". The responsible for the school, a member of the Sidon Nasserite Organization established by late Ma'arouf Sa'ad, told us that there are about 480 persons in the school, among them 150 children and infants. They are herded in to the rooms of the school. In one room, we actually saw 40 persons living together! The only assistance available is blankets. There are no kitchens and few toilets, so every family is living, sleeping and cooking in the same room.


Child wounded in Tyre on August 24, 1979, at
Palestine Red Crescent hospital in Sidon
We should note that United States Ambassador to Lebanon, John G. Dean, recently presented $ 9 million for aid to South Lebanon. (Compare this sum with American assistance to Israel, which reaches $ 2.2 billion a year, 1 billion of which is military aid. Moreover, there will be an increase in this assistance because of the 'peace' package).

As for the Arab countries, Saudi Arabia has given $ 5 million and has sent eight batches of medical and food supplies. Iraq has given a total of $ 12 million, Qatar $ 5 million and Kuwait $ 10 million. This aid is being distributed through the South Council and the Supreme Committee for Relief. Of course, the most helpful aid required is the building of shelters in the South to strengthen the steadfastness of the people, and help them remain in their homes and villages.


3,000 have been wounded in the South and the number is increasing day by day. But there are only a few hospitals in the whole area: one in Tyre, four in Sidon and one in Tibneen. In Hasbaya region there is but one dispensary. The Lebanese Popular Succour organization (LPS) together with the Red Crescent are cooperating to help the wounded in spite of the scandalous shortage of medicines. Most of the wounded are sent to Beirut hospitals after receiving first aid.

Refugees at al-Islah School/Sidon

On the economic level, Southern tobacco, the main source of the Southerner's livelihood, and which represents 75% of the country's tobacco output, has been destroyed. Losses in 1979 alone amount to over L.L. 60 million. The war in the South has also damaged or destroyed other crops, electrical plants, the Tyre harbor and hospitals, leaving thousands unemployed.

As for the educational situation, as a result of the continuous bombardment of the South and especially after the shelling of schools, teaching has stopped, and 62,000 students are now not attending school.

Rula Amin, a 9 year old girl from Ramel Street in Tyre, shrugged her little shoulders in bewilderment when I asked her if she wanted to go back to school to Tyre. She muttered: "I would love to. But.. I don't want to die."


These hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes and villages need help, and fast. They are living in intolerable conditions, with nowhere to go. Their children have the right to a normal life, to a good education. But Israel is depriving them of every right, even their right of existence itself. How much longer will the world shut its ears to the cries of South Lebanon's innocents?

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