Clashes at an old contact line bring back memories of the Lebanese Civil War

 Gunfire penetrates the facades of buildings, snipers shoot randomly, dead and wounded fall in succession, and residents are trapped inside their homes. A sample of scenes that shook the Lebanese at one of the old seam lines on Thursday, bringing to mind the painful memories of the civil war.

On Thursday morning, in conjunction with a demonstration by Hezbollah and Amal supporters in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, violent clashes erupted in the nearby Tayouneh area, killing six people and wounding 30 others.

In this area in particular, the spark of the civil war (1975-1990) erupted, through which a main road passes separating predominantly Christian neighborhoods and other predominantly Shiite neighborhoods, which turned into a line of contact during the war years.

At Tayouneh roundabout, which is surrounded by several buildings, some of which are still deserted since the years of the war, the residents found themselves hostages of bullets fired by snipers and gunmen and rocket-propelled grenades. Many people called for help through the media to help them evacuate their homes. Parents were terrified of their children's schools in the area.

The area looked more like a battlefield, despite the presence of army units and their rapid deployment in the area.

The scenes revived memories of the civil war for Sahar (41 years).

"Since the morning, I have been receiving messages from my friends who lived with me during wartime, lamenting a new generation who is experiencing the same experience today... From hiding in the school corridors, corners of rooms or in the bathrooms, it was the weekly scenes we got used to," she told AFP.

She added, "What happened is terrifying and awakened the past, present and future... as if we are stuck in a time machine, as the same people are the faces of war and peace, our rulers today and those who cook our future tomorrow."

The years of war in the country ended after the Taif Agreement was signed in 1989, and the last round of violence ended in 1990. The Lebanese war left more than 150,000 dead and 17,000 missing.

The political forces that fought it, shared power after the war and failed to build a state of institutions and law, and today they bear the responsibility for the economic collapse that has continued in the country for more than two years, with about 80 percent of the population below the poverty line.

On the streets leading to Tayouneh Roundabout, an AFP photographer on Thursday saw armed men, some of them masked, from the Amal movement and Hezbollah firing at buildings where snipers were present.

While the other side was not clearly visible, and AFP was unable to identify the shooters, some Hezbollah and Amal militants wore badges confirming their affiliation, while the majority wore civilian clothes.

The two Shiite parties accused "groups of the Lebanese Forces Party," the most prominent Christian parties that participated in the civil war and are considered today a fierce opponent of Hezbollah, of "armed assault" on their supporters.

Maryam Daher, 44, couldn't hold back her tears when she heard the sounds of gunfire and saw on TV a man and a woman hiding behind a car in Tayouneh.

"I remembered everything," says Daher, a mother of two boys. "At the same moment, I received a message from my son's school asking the parents to come and pick up their children."

She adds, "I asked myself in which hallway the residents of Al-Tayouneh buildings are sitting today, then I started crying and remembered myself as a child hiding in the hallway of the house."

The shooting brought back images of gunmen to Maryam's memory, who used to climb to the roof of the building where she was living with her family, and the sniping began, "and the area ignites."

The clashes began Thursday, according to Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi, “through sniping” towards the heads.

The sniper bullets marked the stage of the civil war, which exhausted an entire generation of the Lebanese, especially the inhabitants of the contact lines and hot spots.
Mary asks herself one question today: “How did the warlords control another generation today?”

"The idea of ​​a new war is terrifying, I can't go through the same experience again. I want to leave and protect my children.”

At a time when people hid in their homes and Beirut streets and entrances witnessed light traffic, officials continued to warn of “sedition.”

In contrast to the civil war that began between Christian parties and Palestinian factions that were supported by Islamic and leftist Lebanese forces, and soon regional powers, most notably Syria and Israel, participated in it, Thursday’s clashes coincided with tension over the position of the judicial investigator in the case of the Beirut port explosion, Judge Tariq Bitar.

In recent days, the latter was subjected to a campaign of pressure led by Hezbollah, the most prominent political and military force in the country, to object to his summoning of former ministers and security personnel for questioning as part of the investigations he is undertaking, punctuated by calls for his removal.

Elias (48 years old), who also lived through the civil war and dropped out of school for two years, said, “The difference is that there was a context and conditions for the war, but what happened today is not justified.”

He added, "The war has ended and the perpetrators have not been held accountable.. What we are witnessing today is the result of impunity and confirms that the sound of weapons is always louder than everything else."


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