First Published: 2006-09-22

 
Nasrallah childhood village protects its favourite son
 

While victory is cerebrated elsewhere, Bazuriyeh turns into no-go zone for outsiders.

 

Middle East Online

By Beatriz Lecumberri - BAZURIYEH, Lebanon

Old home of Nasrallah

While Beirut's Shiite suburbs on Friday were celebrating Hezbollah's resistance to the mighty Israeli army with a mass rally, the home village of the Lebanese group's chief Hassan Nasrallah was turned into a virtual no-go zone for outsiders.

With Israel refusing to rule out a hit on its sworn foe, whose predecessor was assassinated in a 1992 Israeli air strike in south Lebanon after a Hezbollah rally, strangers were eyed as suspected spies of the Jewish state.

In a departure from the traditional hospitality of the south, a group of villagers and guards in Bazuriyeh, on the outskirts of the southern port town of Tyre, gave a cold reception to some journalists visiting a modest home marked with the Nasrallah name.

The Nasrallah family has never set foot in the village, they said.

The two-storey home was draped with the yellow flag of Hezbollah and a giant portrait of Hassan Nasrallah.

"We saw Hassan Nasrallah grow up here," one of the locals, Adnan Abu Saafi, later confided.

"He studied and spent his holidays in Bazuriyeh all his life, but now any information we give could be passed on to Israel and put him in danger."

While Nasrallah himself was born in Beirut, where he has lived as Hezbollah chief, he was brought up in his father's natal village. Brothers, uncles and cousins have homes around Bazuriyeh, which was the target of Israeli air raids during the July-August war.

One brother's house appeared inhabited but access was denied.

A few metres (yards) away, an engineer sent by the local municipality which is close to Hezbollah was evaluating the damage from the air strikes, under the watchful eye of the guards who remain on duty around the clock.

"The people of Bazuriyeh are very scared of Israel. The Nasrallahs here live a normal life, they are humble people and know no more of the whereabouts of their son or brother than we do," said Ibrahim Faraz, a local councillor.

The Hezbollah chief, a grocer's son who is now married with children, was born in the capital in 1960 but fled to Bazuriyeh with his parents in 1975 at the outbreak of Lebanon's civil war.

The roads of the village are plastered with portraits of Nasrallah, with his full beard, glasses, black turban, and brown robe.

"This man is like a mountain, where we can take refuge. He fills us with a feeling of security," said local pharmacist Mohammed Rida.

Like thousands of others from all over southern Lebanon, a Shiite heartland, many Bazuriyeh residents travelled to Beirut on Friday for the massive "victory" rally called by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah.

"Israel wanted to kill Nasrallah and destroy Hezbollah, but it failed in all its objectives," said Rida, while also paying tribute to the reputed simplicity and incorruptibility of Nasrallah.

During the latest showdown, a sister of the Hezbollah chief was trapped for several days by the Israeli bombardment of Markaba, near the Israeli border, he recalled.

"He is not one for favouritism. He could have got his sister out of there quickly, but for him all Lebanese are equal," he said of Nasrallah, who lost his own teenaged son Hadi back in 1997 in clashes with Israeli troops.

Another resident, Wafiq Deeb, said: "He lives humbly, like us, he eats with us ... He remains part of the people and has less means than any mayor in the region, not like the government ministers. He's ready to sacrifice to the last."

 

Serious challenges for Arab leaders in Amman

US, allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Tributes flood in for anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada

Tunisians demand Muslim marriage decree revoked

Historic Casablanca buildings crumbling in silence

UN says over 300 civilians killed since start of west Mosul offensive

Disputed Iraqi province votes to fly Kurdish flag

Germany laments Turkey's 'unacceptable' spying

Syria opposition says no peace deal without US role

Turkey sends delegation to UK over electronics ban

UN chief urges Arab leaders to confront Syria war

Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life for Paris bombing

Arab League set to oppose Trump Israel embassy shift

US vows to never allow 'Israel-bashing' at UN

Netanyahu ban on MP visits to flashpoint holy site challenged

IS launches counter-attack to defend north Syria town

Saudi intercepts four ‘smuggled’ Yemen rebel missiles

Saudi to set up investment fund to help Jordan

Iran slams Bahrain terror cell claims as ‘delusional’

UN says 30 million unsure of next meal in MENA region

Putin to meet Iran President in Moscow

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

Germany’s Turks cast early ballots for Erdogan referendum

German court convicts Pakistani of spying for Iran

Qatar to invest £5bn in UK within five years

'Kill Erdogan' banner probed in Switzerland, Turkey

Arab League chief urges resolution to Syria conflict

Israel arrests 22 ultra-Orthodox sex offenders

Syrian forces pause offensive on IS-held dam for repairs

Dubai's Emaar Malls offers $800m to buy Souq.com

Iraq launches fresh Mosul Old City advance

US-backed fighters battle IS near north Syria town

Hamas partially reopens Beit Hanoun crossing

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East