Hizbullah hands out compensation

Iran is believed to have opened their treasury for the rebuilding program.

money 224 ap (photo credit: AP)
money 224 ap
(photo credit: AP)
At a school in south Beirut's Bourj el-Barajneh neighborhood, Hizbullah on Friday started handing out one hundred dollar bills to residents who lost their homes in the Israel-Hizbullah conflict - US$12,000 to each claimant. Applicants who had signed up for the aid earlier in the week showed up at the school, showed identification papers and only had to sign a receipt. Hizbullah workers handed residents stacks of bills from a suitcase. Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, in a television speech on Monday shortly after the cease-fire with Israel took hold, pledged to help rebuild Lebanon and said the organization would provide money for civilians who had lost their homes to pay rent and buy furniture. Nasrallah did not say where the money would come from, but Iran historically has been the group's primary source of finance and weapons. The Iranians were widely believed to have opened their treasury for the rebuilding program. Nasrallah, and the government's Higher Relief Council which deals with catastrophic events, said 15,000 housing units were hit during the war. Hundreds of residents of the southern suburbs, known as Dahiyeh, turned out at makeshift registration centers on Wednesday and Thursday to sign up for the aid. As of Thursday afternoon, they began collecting. Hizbullah members called people by phone to come and collect their money. At the Shahed school, pictures of Nasrallah and those of Iranian leaders, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, adorned the walls of one classroom along with one poster of a Star of David broken in half. The words "Congratulations on the victory" were printed on Khamenei's picture. A Hizbullah official said a total of 900 people had been compensated so far, adding that he expected thousands to come forth in the next few days. There were some complaints from those whose homes were demolished that the money is not sufficient. Of the US$12,000, some US$4,000 was to pay for rent one year to those whose apartments were completely devastated, and US$8,000 was for furniture. That money may not be enough for those who own apartments, but for those who lived in rent-controlled apartment, it could be fair compensation. In one instance, a couple of beneficiaries showed up to return some of the money after one official had mistakenly handed over US$120,000 in cash to an applicant, instead of the US$12,000. Those who had taken the big payment were asked to return it when the error was discovered.