South Georgia woman experiences Mideast war - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia woman experiences Mideast war

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August 18, 2006

Albany--As Israeli troops continue to move out of Lebanon, the Lebanese army moves into Southern Lebanon for the first time in decades.

That area used to be controlled by Hezbollah. Tonight, the ceasefire between that Islamic militant group and Israel is holding after more than a month of fighting.

Thousands of Americans were caught up in the war.  Natalie Eldeek is from Lebanon, but moved to the US when she was five-years-old.

She traveled to Beirut recently to visit family. But she didn't have any clue that a war was about to break out.

Intense fighting in the Mideast, left one south Georgia woman fearing for her loved ones.

"I still have a lot of family over there, and knowing they're not too safe is really scary.  Nobody really expected a full blown war to go on," says Natalie Eldeek.  

She spent several weeks in Lebanon visiting close relatives. As war broke out, she witnessed the fighting first hand. "You don't know if you're going to take your last breath or not. You see death all around you. I was on the phone with my sister one day, when they threw like six bombs very close to us. I mean, it's like being in a movie. You don't know how to describe it. It's definitely an experience," she says.

An experience she didn't see coming. "Everything was fine. Lebanon is beautiful. People were out having fun," she says.

But that fun disappeared in an instant. "There was no way we could run, hide or anything.  When I was there the planes were getting so close to us, and all you can do is sit on the floor and close your ears. You don't want to hear it anymore," she says.

The war began after Hezbollah guerillas from Lebanon killed several Israeli soldiers and captured two others. Natalie says the Lebanese people now just want the fighting to end.

"We're really tired. The Lebanese people have been through this for years and years. We're just ready for peace and understanding between these two countries," she says. 

Natalie says she's happy to be back in the United States but hopes her story will make others realize how fortunate they are to live in a country, not torn by war.

"I hope others can understand what others are going through, and not take it for grant it living in a great country like the United States," she says.

Natalie had to cut her trip to Lebanon two weeks short. She hopes to return to the country next summer to spend more time with her family.

US marines helped Natalie and other Americans evacuate Lebanon when the conflict erupted.

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