My childhood friend Yusif Makhoul harvested his crop in Mieh-ou-Mieh, just east of Saida a couple of weeks ago. He said they had a bumper crop, but that they were small. They spent a week harvesting compared to the two days it took us when I was with them in ’97. (I guess olive trees grow 10 years older too.)
However, another friend, Fadi Toufeili, who runs the snack shop at the AUB medical gate has different news. His home is in Deir el Zahrani, at the entrance to Nabatieh in the south. (You will recall Nabatieh as the town where Abu Yusi dropped us off and we visited the grave of the GE engineer. We also visited Fadi on that same trip.) Nabatieh was badly hit during the war, but Fadi’s house at Deir-el-Zahrani escaped damage. Their olive groves have been cordoned off by the army because of unexploded munitions awaiting the demining people. The whole area, as much of the south is strewn with unexploded bomblets from the cluster bombs that were dropped during the last few days of the war.
The tragedy is that these bombs were dropped AFTER the ceasefire had been agreed, but before it went into force. It is estimated that the number of bombs dropped contained over 1 million bomblets, and that around 40% are unexploded. These bomblets are light enough to be caught in the branches of the trees. There are weekly reports of people being killed by unexploded bombs and people are being maimed on a daily basis as they try to harvest their olives and other crops.
There are pictures from Nabatieh and Deir-el-Zahrani here: