How one picture of a Lebanese doctor’s dead body solved a 27-year-old mystery

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Even though over 28 years have passed since Lebanon’s civil war, thousands are still living in hopes of their loved ones who disappeared during the war to reappear. The fate of many of them, who are believed to be either detained, hidden, kidnapped or dead, remains to be unknown.

However, a 27-year-old picture of the body of a Lebanese doctor who disappeared during the war in 1990, finally gave his family the closure they needed.


The picture had appeared on a local television station in 2017, which is when the man’s family recognized his body. A Lebanese photographer, Nabil Ismail, was the one who snapped the picture, and said he received a call from one of the doctor’s relatives in 2017 who thanked him for sharing it, giving the family a chance to finally mourn.

The relative, whose name was kept anonymous by Ismail, said that the photograph of the body, which was lying next to a Mercedes car, belonged to the doctor who worked at a famous hospital in the Lebanese capital. He had disappeared during the war and his family did not know anything about him since then.

The phone call, however, took place in 2017 and Ismail had kept it quiet for a while, until he shared the picture on Saturday on his Facebook page, telling the story in the caption.

“I just registered the incident in my mind since the phone call, without giving it much attention because I often get contacted from fighters who ask me about their pictures,” Ismail told AL Arabiya English.

“But I kept thinking about this for a while and decided to post the picture at some point, maybe in April in the anniversary of the 1975 civil war so it could be a lesson for people not to start other wars.”

But April passed, and Ismail said he had forgotten about it, but remembered to post it recently as he was flipping through his old pictures.

“I just posted it as a story from the war and the importance of war photography. It is really a story about the pains and tragedies of war,” he said.

Thousands of Lebanese families still await any information about their disappeared loved ones, many of whom have lost hope in ever knowing.

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