May 25, 2000; a beautiful sunny day in the spring to most people in the world. However, to people in Lebanon, it is much more, for it is a grand and victorious day where Southerners salvaged their land.
It doesn’t seem by any means perceivable that unarmed women and elderlies, driven only by their daring spirits, would have been able to chase away heavily armed and perfectly capable soldiers like an amusing game of cat and mouse. Seems like chasing rainbows to ordinary folk, but to these people – “people of endurance”, as Naziha, aka Om Mahmoud, from the Southern village of Ramia puts it, dignity and pride is all that matters.
“The scene of liberation appeared like a clip from a comedy movie; The “Israeli” soldier would literally run away, the Lahd agents running terrified behind him, and the people chasing them and liberating their land,” Abu Mahdi, a citizen who like many others, lived the moments of May 2000 liberation, told our website.
“The “Israeli” soldiers gradually evacuated their bases- secretly at night, and expected the Lahd Army [Lebanese agents for “Israel” led by Antoine Lahad] to take their place until matters calmed down, but as soon as the Lahd agents knew of the “Israeli” withdrawal, they could not endure one moment in face of the people and resistance, and left their posts to be liberated by the resistance,” he explained.
Back then, the “Israeli” occupation had declared its withdrawal would be complete by July 2000, but it had felt highly endangered by the resistance operations; it hastened its withdrawal, sometimes leaving their equipment behind.
The very moment the people heard of the early withdrawal, elderly, children, women, and men pushed through the villages, although some “Israeli” and Lahd soldiers were still there.
Back to Om Mahmoud, she narrated to our website. “On May 23, we heard on the news that the people were advancing to villages like Taybeh. I was in the car in Beirut when I heard the news on the radio. We decided to go to our village [Ramiah, which is a borderline village between occupied Palestine and Lebanon], and we passed by to buy some Hizbullah flags. The Lebanese Army started to block the roads because “Israel” did not completely withdraw yet from the Western sector, but we managed to get through. When we arrived to Marwahine near Ramiah, the “Israeli” Army started bombing.”
“Just then, a group of young men said, ‘we want to pass to Ramiah, who wants to go with us?’ Some hesitated and didn’t want to go, but I enthusiastically responded, despite the “Israeli” raids. When we drove, “Israeli” raids were right above our heads. We were determined back then, that if we were to be martyred, then so be it. And indeed, we were able to enter the village,” she said.
Asked about her reaction when she first set foot in her village, Om Mahmoud noted, “Once I arrived to my village, I kissed its pure soil…I was distant from it for 20 years. The feeling is tremendous; something that was stripped away from you and you were able to retrieve it with dignity and pride!”
“The resistance is the cornerstone of liberation, and if it weren’t for the resistance’s operations, the “Israelis” would have stayed in our land, but the popular movement supported the resistance’s attempts and facilitated liberation.”
“These people were oppressed for many years, and they have the right to enjoy the first joy of liberation; they have the right to harvest the fruits from their freshly liberated lands.”
“The people have resistance in their blood, minds, and hearts. If it weren’t for the people, the resistance wouldn’t have the potential to succeed. The people’s embrace for the resistance was its success,” Em Mahmoud beautifully phrased.
People like Em Mahmoud were daring and lucky enough to lead the way to liberating their land. However, spirited people like Em Mohammad, were forced to wait until “Israelis” stopped their raids.
“My brother came and told me that he’s going to the South on May 24, so I said, ‘take me with you’, but he answered, ‘You stay and we’ll go, and you can go afterwards’. I then told him, ‘No, Sayyeda Zeinab didn’t let her brother Imam Hussein (Peace Be Upon Them) go by himself to Karbala,'” Em Mohammad of al-Rihan said, referring to the epic battle in Iraq in which Imam Hussein, his family and friends were massacred by infidels.
“We arrived to Kfarhouna, but the Mujahideen didn’t let us go in, because the “Israeli” Army was bombing the “Israeli” site in al-Rihan [to clear it from any evidence] and the streets so that the people would not enter. We were able by May 25 to enter al-Rihan, where the last “Israeli” tank withdrew from,” she stressed with pride.
It is these people who founded the resistance, and these people who co-liberated the occupied lands.
“The spiritual state of the people was so majestic that they would not differentiate between a Lahdi and an “Israeli”, and would pour in to the villages despite raids and firing,” Abu Mahdi remarked.
The people’s advance to villages was purely spontaneous, yet the valiant Mujahideen would direct them to villages that were liberated and the others that were still unsafe. However, the force of a thousand armies would not stand in the way of faithful and courageous people yearning for a whiff of their land, driven by pride and adrenaline to liberate villages that still had Lahdis and “Israelis”.
Abu Mahdi described the scene in Khiam detention camp, where Lahdis and “Israelis” tortured civilians.
“In the process of liberation, detainees in Khiam detention camp heard sounds of people saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ [Allah is the Great]. They, in turn, cried ‘Allahu Akbar’ in response without even knowing what was happening, up until they were shockingly thrilled when they saw the people flowing in to the camp and releasing them,” Abu Mahdi said.
“It is truly the liberation of the people,” he added.
Indeed, Liberation Day is that of the people, land, and pride, and no wicked force on Earth could strip the just right of the audacious people as long as their every breath sounds ‘resistance’.