Lebanon suffers heavy casualties from seven years of civil war and Israel's invasion
The physical destruction wrought in Lebanon was massive. But aid money can scarcely ameliorate the immense human damages caused by civil war and Israeli invasion.Skip to next paragraph
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''We are trying to estimate and address the physical side of reconstruction, '' says Gullamar Andersson of UNESCO. ''It is taking an enormous amount of time to plan this. Unfortunately we can't even begin to look at the human costs.''
They are, by all estimates, staggering.
In the seven years of a many-sided civil war, approximately 50,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed and twice that many injured. In the June 6-to-Aug. 25 period of fighting following the Israeli invasion, another 17,825 people were killed and 30,103 wounded in Lebanon, according to the best available sources.
These figures do not include those killed in Israel's overrunning of west Beirut in mid-September nor in the massacres in the city's Palestinian camps a few days later. Nor is the continuing toll from internecine warfare in Tripoli, the Shouf region, and the Bekaa Valley taken into account.
The respected Beirut newspaper an-Nahar, availing itself of what records survived the siege last summer, provided the most reliable casualty figures. According to the newspaper, the highest human cost was in Beirut, which was under siege for two months. Approximately 5,515 persons were killed and 11,139 injured among the mixed civilian and military population of Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians.
Hardest hit after Beirut was the Sidon area, including Ain Al Hilweh and Mieh Mieh refugee camps. These were bombed, surrounded, and overrun in the first two weeks of June. An-Nahar said 1,239 civilians were killed and 1,588 wounded. It reported 4,137 killed among Syrian/Palestinian/Lebanese military forces; another 6,851 of these soldiers were wounded.
The mountainous Shouf region and the hills around the town of Aleih experienced heavy combat in the third week of the war. This was during Israel's campaign to complete its encirclement of Beirut in preparation for its siege. An-Nahar said 458 civilians were killed and 797 wounded. Among the Syrian/Palestinian/Lebanese forces 3,348 were killed and 5,169 wounded.
The balance of casualties occurred in the far south of the country and the Beirut vicinity. No estimates were made for the Bekaa Valley, where Syrian missile emplacements were repeatedly bombed by Israeli jets throughout the war.
Israeli Army officials recently reported that during the course of the Peace for Galilee operation 330 Israeli soldiers were killed and 1,000 wounded. This doesn't include soldiers killed or injured in the southern Lebanon insurgency.
While many Lebanese are bursting with optimism today, there are currents of apprehension in the predominantly Muslim communities of west Beirut and southern Lebanon - apprehension that the killing may not be over. Much of these jitters have to do with the rightist Maronite Phalange militia, which was implicated in the Palestinian camp massacres and, as of this writing, had still refused to disarm.
''In all our homes we feel bad,'' says a Sunni Muslim businessman who endured the civil war but now feels especially unprotected. ''We wonder what will happen to us. We are afraid of the Phalange.''
Pascal Gondrand of the International Committee of the Red Cross sees the attitude of Lebanon's war victims this way: ''They all seem to be expecting something. They are not settled. All they know is that Lebanon is either in a situation of pre- or post-war and they feel very insecure.''