Arya Kazemi takes us on a photo-tour of Lebanon –
home of Hezbollah, the radical Islamist group who have a serious gripe with their neighbours, Israel.
It may amount to a petty squabble or it could escalate beyond our worst nightmares, but for the time being, sparked by the audacious kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on 12th July, Hezbollah are continuing to throw sticks and stones over the fence, and Israel has gone round to sort it out.
Various nations are evacuating their nationals by land, air and sea, while the Beirut skyline regales with loud explosions and TV stations report new casualties by the hour. It’s been described as a “war by proxy”, with Iran in the red corner and America in the blue corner, but Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and Israeli Prime Minister-designate, Ehud Olmert, are both big boys, who can fight their own battles. Perhaps more importantly… they’re both willing to.
The following photographs were taken before the latest hostilities kicked off; when Hezbollah were still huddled around the blackboard hatching plots to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
A road sign commemorating the erstwhile leader of Lebanon’s Shiite community, Imam Musa Sadr (who still remains unaccounted for after a mysterious disappearance in1978); the current Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, and the putative spiritual leader of all Shiites, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
The square of a Shiite village.
Two pictures showing decrepit remnants of the Israeli war machine bearing Hezbollah’s insignia.
Road sign commemorating a Hezbollah member killed in an anti-Israeli operation named ‘Islamic Unity’.
Pictures of Hezbollah’s founder (Iranâ€™s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini) and current leader (Sheikh Nasrallah) on display in a shop.
Looking over a Shiite village in Southern Lebanon.
A surreal scene combining natural beauty and rocket launchers.
An Israeli settlement in the distance.
The courtyard of al-Khiam prison, which was originally built in 1930 by the French colonial authority. During Israel’s occupation of Lebanon (1982-2000) it was used to hold those suspected of being Hezbollah members or sympathizers.
Signs and a flier inside the courtyard, outlining what took place there during the 18-year occupation (including two executions).
The leftovers of the prison’s administrative and interrogation center. The prison was almost entirely staffed by the mainly Lebanese Christian members of the SLA (South Lebanon Army), but Israel’s role as the backer of the group is not in doubt.
The prisonersâ€™ quarters, featuring walls covered with inscriptions (including homage to Allah).
The prison’s still-active watchtower.
A mural at the prison, stating “till the extinction of Israel”.
Photography by Arya Kazemi.