At first glance, there is little to separate Hammana from the host of other sleepy hillside communities that dot the snow-capped Lebanese mountains. Ice-cold streams meander down from the peaks through narrow, winding gullies; verdant cedar forests flank the outskirts of the town, which is perched at 4,000 feet alongside a strategic route stretching from nearby Beirut to Damascus.
But Hammana, a mostly Christian settlement of around 11,000 people, is also the setting for a brewing inter-communal clash with surrounding Druze villages that threatens to disturb the area’s tentative peace. A government plan to build a dam in the broad
valley to the east has aroused fierce opposition from townspeople, who say its construction is flawed and that it will destroy their famed Shaghour spring.
“The best assumption is that the spring will lose at least some of its water,” said Joseph Hatem, a Hammana resident and member of its municipality. “The worst case: We lose everything.”
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