Jbeil, Daughter of the Mountain and Maroun El Ras
Jbeil is a caza, sub-prefecture, in South Lebanon,
eighty miles from Beirut and a little over fifty miles
from Sidon (now called Saïda), with heights reaching
2,500 feet. To get there, one should follow the road
from Sidon, past Tyre to Tebneen, or Kooseen – Ain
Ebel – Bint Jbeil, or Nabatieh – Deir Mimas – Kfar
Kila – Markaba – Aitroon.
Scholars have conjectured that the name is of Phoenician
origin, meaning frontier column, or limits, or daughter
of the mountain, or hillock, or house of the sun,
or potter! In point of fact a princess did once live
there, giving the word Bint, feminine of Ibn, son.
There are still some ancient remains to be seen in
the Atlal square, such as those of a temple dedicated
to the goddess Annat, as well as the old souq (bazaar)
where there is a market every Thursday for the benefit
of the surrounding villages, some Byzantine columns
and capitals, a great mosque, and some very old houses.
The most venerable of these is that of Salah Bazzi.
There is an antique mill and some houses in traditional
An abundant spring, Ain el-Kabira, waters a number
of terraced gardens and there are a number of water
pools, the Well of Hara, and the Valley Grotto, to
mention only a few. There are several restaurants
to welcome tourists and sightseers.
What particularly distinguishes the old town is the
Thursday Market. This allows the inhabitants of the
region to meet, to exchange news, to buy and to sell,
to show their produce and to barter. Bint Jbeil is
a town of the Resistance, having offered heroes and
martyrs for the liberation of the South from the Israeli
To commemorate those who had sacrificed their lives,
a space was transformed into a public garden, on the
walls of which are the names of 108 individuals who
fell in the struggle for their country. It is in the
centre of the town and is called Martyrs’ Square,
for in this very place several heroes offered up their
lives. The project was financed by the inhabitants
of the township using various remains such as the
stones of old houses destroyed during the invasion,
and here in this place of leisure there are tents,
benches, water basins, and toilet facilities. The
town itself bears the same name as surrounding district,
which has as its limits Aitroon to the east, Koomeen
to the north, Yaroon to the south, and Ainata to the
During the First World War, Bint Jbeil was occupied
by the allied forces, in particular by the French
Army, which deployed over all Lebanese territory.
The town is considered the capital of resistance and
of liberation, where the victories won against the
Israeli invader are celebrated.
Bint Jbeil was several times bombarded and destroyed
by the air arm and other forces of Israel, but each
time was straight away rebuilt. More than 12,000 houses
in and around Bint Jbeil were stricken and reduced
to rubble. It was occupied by Israel from 1982 to
the year 2000, when the enemy forces withdrew, considering
Bint Jbeil as a hive of Hizbollah. Most of the inhabitants
are Shiites. In 2006 during the July War there were
fierce battles waged and the 51st battalion of the
elite Gabouni Brigade was repelled by an unexpected
and ferocious resistance. It is to be noted that Bint
Jbeil is only a couple of miles from the Israeli frontier.
To return to the past, in 1839 a government house
was put up for the princedom dominated by the emirs
Al-Ali and Al-Saghir and the notable regional families
Al-Sadoon, Mishtah, Shami, Al-Selman and Bazzi.
During the First World War, a number of young people
emigrated in order to avoid the requisitioning by
the Ottoman Turks. Bint Jbeil is certainly worth a
visit, one that provides an opportunity to savor the
menus of its restaurants.
Over a mile south of Bint Jbeil is the heroic village
of Maroun el-Ras, on a high point just half a mile
from the frontier with Israel.
Maroun el-Ras stands at a height of three thousand
feet, over successions of terraces planted with vineyards,
olive groves and orchards of assorted fruit trees.
It was bombed and destroyed by the Israeli aviation.
It was rebuilt thanks to the help of Kuwait and Iran.
A public garden was laid out in which there is a mosque
reproducing the El-Aqsa on a smaller scale. Here come
local people and sightseers from all around. The inhabitants
of Maroun el-Ras defended their village heroically
against the Israeli troops and many were those who
fell martyrs in this war.
Maroun el-Ras is a district of Bint Jbeil on the slopes
of Mount Amel. Its inhabitants are mainly Shiite and
it is considered a bastion of the Hizbollah and the
Resistance. One may visit many of its recent productions
in the village itself, in its gardens and in its museum.
Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: