Nadine Elali

I can’t stop Hezbollah from attacking Tfeil

Civil war in a Lebanese village

Tfeil, Lebanon.

Tuesday night, my phone rang: the name “Tfeil Resident” appeared on the screen. It was an eyewitness from the border town, a man I’ve contacted once before for a story, and who to this day insists on remaining anonymous. He had called to inform me that the Lebanese village was, once again, under attack. “Please help us,” he cried.


I turned on the television, but there was nothing on the news. I turned to the Internet, yet nothing was being reported anywhere. Overwhelmed by a feeling of responsibility, I called our news office; however, since it was close to midnight, there was little we could do to get the news out.


I called the resident back, but the call failed because the network was down. I tried once, twice, three times to no avail. I knew then and there that it was going to be a long night for both the residents of Tfeil and myself. I tossed and turned as I imagined what these poor people were enduring some kilometers away. Of course, I was occasionally distracted by the cheers and roars of the masses that were out watching Brazil play Mexico in the World Cup.


Wednesday morning, I received another phone call: it was from another Tfeil resident, who also prefers to remain anonymous. He requested we meet since he wanted to tell me some things he felt he could not say over the phone.


“Battles have been raging for two consecutive nights. Hezbollah forces are in direct battle with the village residents. Hezbollah is fighting Lebanese residents.”


The village had come under fire earlier in April, and residents were living without food supplies, electricity, shelter, or aid as the Lebanese government and the international community turned a blind eye. As the news made headlines, Lebanese authorities expressed their willingness to end the four-month siege imposed on the village by Syrian regime forces and Hezbollah. They opened the road to the village, provided residents with aid, and arranged a safe passage for the wounded to be evacuated. However, the residents’ ordeal did not end there. As anticipated, and due to the continued absence of state institutions, Syrian regime forces once again launched a campaign of aerial bombardment against Lebanese civilians. This time, however, the events seem to have taken a different turn.


“Hezbollah is entering the village from Lebanese territory,” the Tfeil source told me. “They have so far progressed a couple of kilometers. They requested we evacuate the women and children because they plan to enter. If they enter, a massacre will take place. The village residents are all tribal families, and they will not allow Hezbollah forces to take over the town. They all have weapons and will fight back. We have continuously called on the Lebanese state to spread its forces in the village, but they have not responded. So, the residents have taken matters into their own hands.”


But why is Hezbollah so keen on taking over Tfeil, I asked.


“Some 10 days ago, Syrian opposition fighters were able to free Rankous Valley, Asal al-Ward, and Hosh Arab and drive out Hezbollah fighters and the Syrian Army Forces,” he replied. “Tfeil lies in the midst of these three Syrian villages. Under the excuse that we harbor Islamist fighters, Hezbollah wants to enter Tfeil to counter the attack.”


It was being reported in the news that Hezbollah’s battle to seize the Lebanese border with Syria hit a rough patch in the abovementioned villages. Dozens of Hezbollah fighters were reportedly killed as forces tried to seize the mountainous area from Qusair to Zabadani. The opposition took control of the area after engaging in several battles with Hezbollah and Syrian army troops.


“The town’s residents in Rankous, Asal al-Ward, and Hosh Arab are all fighting alongside the Syrian opposition forces,” he told me. “For that reason the opposition forces were able to drive out Hezbollah and the Syrian Army. The families there are all tribes and are all brutal when it comes to honor and integrity. Hezbollah is no longer waging a war against the opposition: they are waging a war on [Lebanese] civilians.”


“Help us stop this,” he cried, “because no one else wants to.”


I apologized to the desperate man on behalf of my state and my fellow Lebanese for not having the power, the resources, or the ability to stop this destruction. Here’s a Lebanese village – with Lebanese residents who have preserved their Lebanese identity for generations – that is being attacked by their fellow Lebanese in the interest of another country and regional hegemony.


I am sorry for I can’t stop Hezbollah from attacking Tfeil, much like I couldn’t stop them from interfering in Syria.


But I promise to keep being your voice, no matter how hard or challenging it may get! 

Tfeil, Lebanon.

Battles have been raging for two consecutive nights. Hezbollah forces are in direct battle with the village residents. Hezbollah is fighting Lebanese residents.”

  • tk2014

    no one's asking you to stop Hezbollah, stop the terrorists being harbored in Arsal and these areas.

    June 21, 2014

  • Hesman

    seems like a propaganda story then news.

    June 20, 2014

  • mjay

    are you sure he was calling for help? it may have just been a booty call

    June 20, 2014

  • tk2014

    “The town’s residents in Rankous, Asal al-Ward, and Hosh Arab are all fighting alongside the Syrian opposition forces,” he told me. With all do respect this is a joke. The author, quotes the resident as saying they are fighting along side the Opposition (who is allied with at the very least Jabhat al nusra) who are responsible for the death of 100s of Lebanese and we are supposed to feel sorry for these folks?

    June 20, 2014

  • J K

    This is a pretty poor attempt to turnt he tide of public opinion in your favor. You source only your "Tfeil sources", that it? You should've learned better in J school. Your assertion that Hezbollah is fighting in Tfeil is likely correct, but you bold accusation that they are fighting residents if totally ludicrous and baseless. It is completely antithetical to the modus operendi of Hezbollah to target civilians, and would be self defeating as they legitimacy in Lebanon is largely derived from local support, despite propaganda attempts to infer otherwise. You may not like Hezbollah, but thank your lucky stars that they have been able to keep out the Salafist elements (not to mention multiple invasion attempts by Israel) that have plagued your neighbors.

    June 19, 2014

  • nerv

    Then what do you call what happened on May 7th 2008??

    June 19, 2014