“Today, the resistance became greater than the Lebanese scene, its influence on the moral and mobilization levels reaching beyond the country,” said Hizbullah MP Mohammad Raad during a Hizbullah "celebration" in Nabatiyeh on Monday. Raad, who heads Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc, attributed the destruction to the “confrontation to defend Lebanon’s sovereign decision. The enemy could have taken a stroll in the country and confiscated its independence and sovereignty if it weren’t for the resistance.”
Raad contrasted the heroism of his fighters with that of some 350 Lebanese security officers besieged by the Israelis in their barracks in the southern village of Marjayoun during the war, and who were released after negotiations involving the Lebanese interior ministry, the US ambassador, and the Israeli defense ministry. The negotiations led to thousands being evacuated from the predominantly Christian village, including the Lebanese officers and many Shia refugees from neighboring towns. The convoy, you may recall, was hit by an Israeli drone, killing at least 7 civilians.
The Hizbullah MP described what happened in the barracks as "despicable." And he wasn't referring to the siege itself, or the dead civilians, but to the contacts made between the Lebanese and Israelis that secured the release, and perhaps the footage of a Lebanese security officer sipping tea with Israeli soldiers (he was placed under house arrest after the footage aired). All that, to Raad, punctured people’s morales and was inconsistent with the “honor, dignity and heroism” exhibited by the "resistance". He said Hizbullah wants to know how the contacts were made, and whether they were in accordance with a “political will”, in which case “we have to hold those responsible accountable.”
Here’s what happened according to a dispatch by Robert Fisk (If you have a better account, please send it my way)
It is one of the untold stories of the Israeli-Hizbollah war; there are others - infinitely more bloody - but the ultimate tragedy of these largely Christian refugees involved a raft of Lebanese officers and ministers, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, the US ambassador and the Israeli Defence Ministry.
It all began on 10 August when the Israelis staged a small ground offensive into Lebanon after a month of massive bombing of Lebanese villages in the south. Brig-Gen Adnan Daoud, commanding a mixed force of 350 Lebanese paramilitary police and soldiers at the barracks in the pretty Christian town of Marjayoun, found a man at the gate at 9am, an Israeli officer calling himself Col Ashaya. Brig-Gen Daoud, whose men were not fighting the Israelis, called the Lebanese Interior Minister, Ahmad Fatfat, who "endorsed" - Fatfat's word - Daoud's decision to let him in. "Ashaya" spent four hours looking round the barracks to assure himself that there were no Hizbollah members there. Then he left. Daoud put a white flag on the guardhouse.
But at 4pm that afternoon, an Israeli tank unit approached the barracks and started to shoot their way in. Daoud was again told by Fatfat to let in the Israelis who, according to Daoud, informed him that "we are the occupiers and we are in charge". An Israeli officer then locked Daoud into a room.
Thousands of Christians in Marjayoun now feared for their lives. According to several aid workers, Hizbollah were firing rockets from behind the town's hospital, which was immediately abandoned by the Lebanese Red Cross. The inhabitants believed, with good reason, that Hizbollah's missiles would be redirected from Israel on to Marjayoun itself now that the town had been taken over by Israeli troops and tanks.
Locked in his room, Daoud now called Fatfat again and Fatfat called the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, who, by chance, was talking to the US ambassador to Beirut, Jeffrey Feltman. Feltman - either via the State Department or directly to the US embassy in Tel Aviv - told his diplomats to call the Israeli Defence Ministry; and they swiftly replied that there should be no Israeli troops in Daoud's barracks. But the Israelis in Marjayoun refused to believe what Daoud told them.
Marjayoun's inhabitants, however, were now in a state of panic and Daoud called Fatfat at 7pm to start arranging for a refugee convoy north from Marjayoun to Beirut. The Lebanese government, according to Fatfat, called the United Nations command in southern Lebanon at 5am the next day, 11 August, to seek clearance from the Israelis to allow the thousands of refugees to be convoyed north. The UN, according to the government in Beirut, subsequently notified Gen Abdulrahman Shaiti, assistant to the head of Lebanese military intelligence, that the convoy had permission from the Israelis to travel.
The story ends with an Israeli drone targeting the convoy, killing at least seven. Here lies the tragedy, but not according to Raad, whose fighters fired rockets from behind a hospital, and who wanted the Lebanese officers and civilians to commit suicide in defense of a resistance that is, in his words, greater than Lebanon.