The following is an e-mail from my sister Bonnie, written during her visit to the Nahar al Barad refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon:
We have seen with our own eyes what’s inside the Nahar al Barad refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon. It was a camp of around 45,000 people that the Lebanese army moved into to root out about 150 Fatah al Islam group members (radical group that infiltrated camp) between May and mid-October.
Anyway, they are not allowing reporters into the camp because it looks like an atom bomb hit it. From what we saw, all homes have either been flattened, burned out, looted; mosques badly damaged; furniture and sinks and everything in homes broken with axes, etc. You can’t imagine. It still smells like smoke all over; everything shelled; bullet holes in every building. It doesn’t matter what the issues were, the fact is the civilian population was collectively punished — a population of 45,000. We saw M-16 shells (made in U.S.)and heard that the U.S. provided supply support to the Lebanese Government for this operation. All stores destroyed (this was a thriving place that looked like a “normal” refugee town. It would be as if the military came into Denison or Iowa City and left NOTHING but flattened or burned-out, shelled homes. We heard a story of a young man walking with two friends to get bread and they were indiscriminately shot at and one killed.
The very few people who refused to leave or have just come back (two old men we talked to in particular) are crying for help. Where is the media? Why isn’t there an outcry about this –(Read about what went on the past few months by googling “Nahar al Barad” camp. See a few photos on today’s BBC (click on Middle East–then click Palestinian refugees return to camp). UNRWA is in supplying barrels of water.
This is collective punishment — the older men we talked to said even Israel didn’t do anything like this when they occupied southern Lebanon. This story MUST get more attention. If you talk to Biden’s man, tell him Congress must look into this as a massive crime against humanity supported with American tax dollars. (There is one unsubstantiated website story about a U.S. base to be reconstructed very close to where this camp is (was) located — outside Tripoli.) We have photos and have talked with people in the camp. If any of you have listservs–Emily will put a more descriptive
account together so we can get this out to people. Also, need to get the U.S. media to take interest in this. Emily sent a suggestion for a story to Democracy Now. Would someone forward this to Cindy. I can’t easily access email addressees here — lose everything I type if I make a wrong move!