Looking Toward Southern Lebanon

Editors’ Note: In “No Generation Spared” in the June 2024 edition of ONE, Laure Delacloche reports on the reach of the Israel-Hamas conflict into southern Lebanon, and the impact it is having on struggling families. In her audio report, she discusses how this story fits into her solutions approach to journalism, and how she hopes it will bring greater attention to the needs in southern Lebanon. A full transcript is available below.

Listen to the audio:

Hello, my name is Laure Delacloche and I’m a journalist working in Lebanon. I have written this article about the life and the difficulties that the Christians face in southern Lebanon in the context of the ongoing war between Israel and Hezbollah. I have been in Lebanon for three years now, and I certainly had not come to report on the war.

But the 7th of October has changed the lives of the people in Lebanon, mine included. On the 8th of October, Israel started bombing Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas attacks. That’s when Hezbollah, the armed wing of a Lebanese political party, stepped in to support Hamas, its ally. And that’s how exchanges of rockets and drone fire began between Israel and Lebanon.

And, like many colleagues and readers, I don’t consider war reporting as a superior kind of journalism. I was not waiting around in Beirut for the outbreak of war to fast-track my career. I’m a peace journalist. I’m interested in how the Lebanese organize, how they innovate, how they cope. When the war broke out, I was terrified that it would shatter the lives of my friends and relatives.

I chose to remain a peace journalist, although I made an exception for ONE magazine. I realized I was offered a fantastic opportunity to report cautiously from localities that had not yet been struck by the Israeli fire. I would have a chance to platform the voices of those from southern Lebanon. I live in Beirut, a city roughly 50 miles north from the southern villages we visited, and here life goes on as normal.

I am sitting at a café as I speak. There is no running to shelters, no permanent buzzing of the drones over our heads, no smoke billowing above our homes. On the day when I returned from southern Lebanon to Beirut, my hairdresser asked me, “Do you think there’s going to be a war in Lebanon?” And I replied, “I’m just back from the south, and Lebanon is at war.”

Surely, the killing of civilians, the destruction of their livelihoods, and the fate of the displaced make the national headlines. But the engagement of the community remains uneven, largely defined by political sympathies, and hindered by the fact that a large part of the population already struggles to put food on the table.

Aware of this gap between Beirut and southern Lebanon, I try to end each interview with one question. “I am from Beirut. Of course, there must be some things about living in the south now that I don’t know about. What comes to your mind?”

The answers revolved around two aspects: That this war is the last straw after five years of economic crisis, and that no one helps the inhabitants of southern Lebanon.

I hope my article will help close that gap.

Laure Delacloche is a journalist in Lebanon. Her work has been published by the BBC and Al Jazeera.

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