Josh Wood

A journalist's observations on Lebanon and elsewhere

The Bus That Started it All

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The bus that was ambushed by Christian gunmen on April 15, 1975 – an event that sparked Lebanon’s 15-year-long civil war. Photo by Sam Tarling.

The Lebanese civil war was perhaps inevitable.  In the mid 1970s, Lebanon was primed for conflict, just waiting for that final spark.  The spark could have been anything, but it turned out to be this bus, which was carrying Palestinian passengers from Tal Zaatar refugee camp to Shatila refugee camp in south Beirut when it was ambushed by Christian gunmen belonging to the Phalange Party.  Fifteen years of hell followed.

Today the bus is parked in south Beirut and looked after by a very interesting historian/activist/curator named Lokman Slim.  For this month’s issue of Esquire Middle East, I took a look at the history of the bus and talked with Lokman about its significance and the country today.  

These days, tensions continue to rise in Lebanon over the war in neighboring Syria.  Some groups are arming up, others are looking for an escape. During the “incidents” as they are called here (such as after last month’s assassination of Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan) the guns come out, the balaclavas go on and the country braces. Lokman said it best:

“We are living in a kind of country which is filled with civil war triggers, where everything – every object, every word – could become a bus.”

Check out the article here



Written by woodenbeirut

November 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. Reblogged this on Josh Wood.


    November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

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