It is not the best time to visit Lebanon for a holiday, but there are currently thousands of tourists in Beirut, and they are all keen to get out. At the main frontier crossing with Syria the queues are long as people strive to escape. “We were under bombardment. All the roads were hit. We came on Aranta-rihan way, which is through valleys. We left at dawn. Aircraft were all over us. God saved us”, said one driver. Many are making the exodus on foot, mainly from southern Lebanon and the Bekaa valley, but also from Beirut’s southern suburbs where Israel believes Hizbollah leaders are located.
Many are calling at the United Arab Emirates embassy to try and get visas to escape. Syria has temporarily suspended the need to have one for Lebanese citizens. The airport also received a respite that was just long enough for the Lebanese flag carrier Middle East Airways to fly five of its planes to safety, in Jordan and Cyprus.
As soon as the planes had left, the Israelis resumed their bombardment of the runways. Various European nations are also looking for ways of getting their nationals out.