Adonis Diaries

Testimonials of a civil war in Lebanon: How the village of Erssal (3ersal) in North Bekaa Valley fared?

Posted on: October 22, 2008

Testimonials of a civil war in Lebanon: How the village of Erssal in the Bekaa Valley fared?
From the issue of the daily Al Balad April 22, 2005

This section is a document about a village that may shed some light on one of the main factors that led to the civil war in Lebanon.

Erssal is a village in the Bekaa Valley.  It was abandoned by the successive Lebanese governments and no services or public work reached the village since the independence of Lebanon in 1943.

This poor, isolated and Sunni village became the hub of radical and leftist movements such as the Communist and Baasists (Syrian and Iraqi) Parties and various Palestinian factions. The Moslem fundamentalists never were able to take hold in this revolutionary surrounding.

It is sometimes called the “Mother of Martyrs” because around 500 of its inhabitants died during the civil war period; the village is sometimes called the “Wedding of the heroes”, playing on the Arabic word of 3Erss for wedding.

The inhabitants of Erssal were pro Gammal Abdel Nasser, the late leader of Egypt, who grabbed the power in 1955 in a military coup.

The Lebanese government of late President Fouad Chehab severely punished the inhabitants of Erssal, humiliated them and forbade the soldiers from this town to be promoted to ranks of officers in the army.  The population took to contraband activities and many were shot dead by the Syrian border patrols.

After the defeat of the Arabs’ armies in 1967, in their war against Israel, the people in Erssal adopted the Palestinian movement and many joined various Palestinian factions for easy money with no work.

During the civil war, many relocated to the shantytowns in the Palestinian refugee camps in and around Beirut and suffered the slaughter and mass extermination of the Sabra and Shatila camps in 1982. Forty of them were killed when the camp of Tel Zaatar was invaded by the Christian militias in 1978.

The soldiers from Erssal joined the faction of the Lebanese army that split from the legitimate authority, in support of the Palestinian cause and the demands of the Left political parties. They were pro Saddam Hussein when Iraq invaded Kuwait and a few died in Iraq when the USA lately invaded Iraq.

During the mass demonstration in March 14, 2005, where more than a million converged to Beirut proclaiming Freedom, Self-determination and Independence from Syria’s tutelage in Lebanon, the village of Erssal converged in mass because it was under the direct Syrian administration.

This large town is still a hotbed for contraband activities and stealing luxury cars for ransome.

Note: Last week, Feb.1, 2013, extremist jihadist Moslems, supported by the Syrian opposition army, hacked to death a Captain in the Lebanese army and kidnapped a dozen soldiers and barricaded in the large town of Ersaal. The army is now encircling the town and want all the perpetrators to surrender. Harsh times are ahead of Lebanon.

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October 2008
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