I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO’: DETROITERS’ HEARTS ACHE OVER TOWN IN CROSS FIRE
Its name means “daughter of the mountain,” and to hear natives describe it, Bint Jbeil deserves such a mythical name, nestled in a sunlit valley cooled by breezes cascading down slopes, the vendors at the town market hawking olives plucked in nearby groves.
But that was before the conflict.
In the past week, the pastoral village in southern Lebanon has changed into a blackened, bombed-out ghost town, the result of fierce fighting between Hizballah forces and Israeli soldiers. The town, along with the nearby village of Maroun al-Ras, has been the site of some of the most brutal fighting of late, with Israel calling it a Hizballah stronghold.
But to thousands of Muslims in metro Detroit, it’s also their homeland.
On Sunday, Israel’s air force hit about 50 targets across the country before agreeing to halt for 48 hours air attacks on southern Lebanon and, for the time being, on Bint Jbeil. An estimated 10,000 Michiganders trace their ancestral roots to the town caught in the cross fire between Israel and Hizballah, which both Israel and the U.S. government consider a terrorist group.
Many Muslims who live in Michigan have poured millions of dollars into Bint Jbeil to build homes, businesses, even a community center following the Israeli withdrawal six years ago. Others are desperately worried about trapped relatives that stayed behind. About 1,500 civilians remain in the town, according to members of the Dearborn-based Bint Jebail Cultural Center. As many as 100 of those are U.S. citizens.
“My mom is 80 and really sick, and my dad is totally deaf,” said Naim Bazzi, 62, of Dearborn Heights, whose parents live in the village. “I don’t know what to do.”
LEBANESE CIVILIANS FLEE DURING RESPITE (AP)
A NIGHT OF DEATH AND TERROR FOR LEBANESE VILLAGERS (NY Times)