BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


The BBC's Hilary Andersson visits Beaufort
"The fabled network of tunnels is too dangerous now to try to see"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 June, 2000, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
Crusader relic damaged in Israeli retreat
Beaufort Castle
The imposing silhouette dominates south Lebanon
By Hilary Andersson in south Lebanon

One of the Middle East's most important crusader castles, Beaufort Castle, has been damaged.

The crumbling 12th Century castle, in south Lebanon, was in active service as a fortress until last week.

But when the Israelis who controlled it pulled out of south Lebanon they set off a massive explosion designed to destroy their own fortifications in the castle's grounds.


Beaufort Castle
The resistance movement celebrates Israel's retreat from Beaufort
Walking through the rubble of steel and concrete with the chief archaeologist for south Lebanon, Ali Badawi, it at first seemed that the explosion had not damaged the castle itself.

Possible collapse

But the damage, he said, was to its structure.

"This usually makes a strong wave and this strong wave usually makes a crack in the rock, into the foundation of the castle," says Mr Badawi.

"It is possible the castle could collapse."

Beaufort Castle has been fought over for 800 years by a succession of crusaders, Muslims, Ottomans and others.

Built on the edge of a steep cliff, it commands a striking view of Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

Lying at the crossroads of the Arab world, its strategic importance is as crucial now as it has ever been.

Compensation

Ancient armies did little to damage this castle, but modern weapons have.

The eastern wall was bombed by F-16s in 1982 when the Israelis invaded.

The entire first floor is filled with rubble, and the fabled network of tunnels is too dangerous now to try to see.

It is a distant dream, but Mr Badawi hopes one day to see it rebuilt.

"The process of rebuilding this castle will take years and it will cost millions of dollars," he says.

"We think the Israelis should pay for that. Maybe as part of the compensation the Lebanese Government should ask the Israelis to pay as a part of the damage they caused in Lebanon."

Beaufort Castle is a remarkable living part of the history of the Middle East.

But if nothing is done to protect it, this critical crusader relic could collapse completely, taking with it centuries of the past.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

24 May 00 | Middle East
Bitter retreat for the SLA
24 May 00 | Middle East
South Lebanon celebrates
24 May 00 | Middle East
Israeli relief over safe withdrawal
23 May 00 | Middle East
Hezbollah chief warns Israel
23 May 00 | Middle East
In pictures: Infamous prison stormed
23 May 00 | Middle East
Uneasy calm in southern Lebanon
24 May 00 | Media reports
Israeli press: Pullout recalls Saigon
23 May 00 | Middle East
BBC driver killed in Lebanon
23 May 00 | Middle East
In pictures: Israel pulls out
22 May 00 | Middle East
Annan warns of UN withdrawal
22 May 00 | Middle East
Arab concern over Israeli pullout
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories