A big part of Lebanon has been occupied by Israel for many years. All of this started in 1982 and lasted until the year 2000 when Israeli forces retrieved from Lebanon. During those years, mainly the south of Lebanon was occupied.
This awful part in Lebanese history is still very much influencing the present situation. For one, Israel and Lebanon are still in a state of war. Unlike Jordan and Egypt (in 1994 and 1979) there has never been signed a peace agreement. Another important result of that occupation/war is that -logically- Israel is seen as the country’s and people’s biggest enemy.
This became very clear when we visited the resistance -Hezbollah- museum just outside Saida, south of Beirut and in the mountains.
This resistance museum is constructed at a place where a former Hezbollah stronghold was located. The museum opened its doors a couple of years ago and is beautifully constructed, surprisingly modernistic I thought. There were several guys, I’m guessing former Hezbollah fighters (but they wouldn’t say…I emphasize: I’m guessing), showing the visitors around and telling stories about their resistance against the “Israeli -Zionist- aggressor”.
It was an intense experience. The tour started at a big monument commemorating the fights and all the trophies that were gathered during the occupation. Several Israeli tanks, bombs and helmets were spread around a central ‘grave’ symbolizing the death of the ‘Zionist entity’.
From there on we walked through a small forest from where attacks were coordinated to the Israeli checkpoints and bases. While walking through the forest we came across several arms and soldier dummies simulating the situation of those days very realistically, weird and very beautiful at the same time.
That forest lead us to the entrance of the former tunnels that were dug to provide for a safe haven for the thousands of fighters that fought during those years. After exploring the tunnels we got to the end of the outside part of the museum: a big plaque displaying the ‘victory speech’ Hezbollah leader Nasrallah gave in 2000 after Israel retrieved.
The inside part of the museum can be described in one word: intense. For me it was filled with hatred against Israel and pride because of the Israeli soldiers that had been killed during the war. We got confronted by video footage of bombs hitting Israeli tanks; mourning Israeli soldiers. A sad view.
This hate is understandable as far as I’m concerned and I totally understand that resisting a stronger power during so many years might be something to be proud of.
Either way: killing anyone, even a soldier, is not something to be proud of.
Check out the pictures for an impression of the museum.
PS: to balance the image of the last part: I was sickened by a video of Israeli kids writing messages on bombs that were intended for the battlefield in Lebanon. One of the messages was: ‘this is a present from the Israeli kids to the Lebanese kids’.
PPS: such a museum makes you realize how much of a media/propaganda war is being fought between Israel and its enemies.