As a cautious calm descended on the border of south Lebanon on Saturday, the second day of a four-day ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, villages that had emptied of residents came back to life – at least briefly.
Shuttered shops reopened, cars moved through the streets and, in one border town, a family on an outing posed for photos in front of brightly coloured block letters proclaiming, “I [HEART] ODAISSEH” – the town’s name
About 55,500 Lebanese have been displaced by clashes between the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Israeli forces since the beginning of the war in Gaza, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The fighting has killed more than 100 people in Lebanon, including more than a dozen civilians – three of them journalists – and 12 people on the Israeli side, including four civilians.
While Lebanon and Hezbollah weren’t officially parties to the truce between Israel and Hamas, the pause has brought a halt to the daily exchanges of rockets, artillery shells and air strikes. Some Lebanese took the opportunity to inspect their damaged houses or to pick up belongings.
Abdallah Quteish, a retired school principal, and his wife, Sabah, fled their house in the village of Houla – directly facing an Israeli military position across the border – on the second day of the clashes. They went to stay with their daughter in the north, leaving behind their olive orchard just as the harvest season was set to start.
They returned to their house on Friday and to an orchard where the unharvested olives were turning dry on the branches.
“We lost out on the season, but we’re all right … and that’s the most important thing,” Sabah said.
“God willing, we’ll stay in our house if the situation remains like this.”