Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Lebanese are leaving

The guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) leads the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48)-U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Anthony Falvo

Fearing renewed war, Lebanese take preventive measures
March 11, 2008

Fears of renewed war are pushing Lebanese residents to take preventive measures in preparation for possible emergency scenarios.

Sources in the national security forces estimate that the percentage of passports issued in the city of Baalbeck increased around 30% in light of the recent national episodes. Other measures taken by concerned citizens include attempts to secure homes in areas which might be safe from bombings.

Their fear stems in renewed clashes with the Israeli army in retaliation for the assassination of Imad Mugniyah in Damascus. Last month, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared "open war" on Israel in a fiery speech at the funeral of their top official Imad Mugniyah in the southern suburb of Beirut, who was killed in a car bombing the party blamed on Israel.

Nasrallah added that the 2006 war between his militant group and Israel was not over and that his followers stood ready for combat. "If the Zionists want war, then they shall have it," Nasrallah said. "If you want an open war, then let it be an open war."

"The July war is not over, it is ongoing and no ceasefire was ever declared," the Hezbollah leader continued. "The blood of Imad Mugniyah will contribute to the disappearance of the Jewish state."

Part of the reaction this provoked was a tripled demand for passports since Nasrallah’s speech, according to a source in Tyre. The demand escalated further after the arrival of American guided-missile destroyer the USS Cole off the Lebanon coast.

The USS Cole has been the center of hot debate, with Syria claiming the deployment was an attempt to cripple any solution to the presidential crisis in Lebanon. Parliament Speaker and head of the Amal movement Nabih Berri said the Cole aimed at distracting international attention from the massacres in Gaza earlier this month. The US said it was a show of support for the Lebanese government, while the Siniora cabinet said it did not ask for the Cole to be sent.

The USS Cole was relieved by the USS Ross and the USS Philippine Sea last week.

“After these events, we began to receive between 300 and 400 applications daily, while the number of applications before that was between 50 and 75 applications a day,” the source in Tyre, who requested anonymity, said. (NOWLebanon)


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