AIN EBEL, SOUTH LEBANON - Amid the steep rolling hills of South Lebanon, a mere handful of kilometers from the fence on the border with Israel, sits the besieged Christian community of Ain Ebel. It is often said that Lebanon is a victim of geography; few Lebanese are as unlucky as those who live in Ain Ebel. For decades the people in this village have been caught between the anvils of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hezbollah on one side, and the hammer of the Israeli Defense Forces on the other.
I visited this small town with my American friend and colleague Noah Pollak from Azure Magazine in Jerusalem. Two men, Said and Henry, from the Lebanese Committee for UNSCR 1559 - an NGO which advises the Lebanese government and the international community on the disarmament of Hezbollah - safely escorted us down there from Beirut.
Alan Barakat from the Ain Ebel Development Association waited for us outside a small grocery store owned by his uncle. He agreed to tell us about what happened to his community during the war in July, when Hezbollah seized civilian homes and used residents as human shields.
Ain Ebel is small, and we walked the streets on foot. I didn't see nearly as much destruction as I saw in the Hezbollah strongholds of Bint Jbail and Maroun al-Ras which I visited earlier the same day. Downtown seemed intact. This was not a surprise. The residents are implacably hostile to Hezbollah and always have been. This was not a place where the Party of God could dig in, build bunkers, and store weapons. Ain Ebel was, as they say, a "target poor" environment. That did not, however, stop Hezbollah from using it as a battleground.