Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More pictures. Some from the Lebanese border with Syria, some from BintJbeil. In Yugoslavia, they called this ethnic cleansing, right?This from the Associated Press American news agency (I edited a couple of sentences and cut it because it was too long) It's what their reporter saw when journalists entered Bint Jbeil yesterday:
BINT JBAIL, Lebanon (AP) _ The elderly man stumbled overthe rubble, his crumpled suit hanging off his shrunken frame, his loose pants held together by a pin after eatingonly a piece of candy a day.
®I haven't seen the sun for 20 days,¯ said 73-year-oldMehdi al-Halim. Next to him, his wife balanced a bag ofclothes on her head as she tried to pick her way over thewreckage of bombed-out buildings.
Some 200 Lebanese, many elderly, struggled to safetyMonday, ravaged by days in hiding with little food asbattles brought the town of Bint Jbail down around them.
The siege lifted, they emerged from their shelters,dehydrated, starving _ some in their 70s or 80s _ and somestarted to walk out of devastated Bint Jbail. Two died onthe road, one of malnutrition, the other of heart failure. Others waited for ambulances.
®All the time I thought of death,¯ said Rima Bazzi, anAmerican who hid with her two daughters, son and mother ina doctor's house. ®The bombing never stopped. I didn't go out. I was too afraid. I just thought I would die.¯
She had left her husband behind in Dearborn, Michigan, tovacation with her children in Bint Jbail.
While she was there, the Israeli offensive began, and bombardment rained around the town and across the south.Then things got worse: Bint Jbail became the objective in an Israeli groundassault. For eight days, Hezbollah fighters and soldiers fought thebloodiest battles of Lebanon's nearly three-week conflict, until the Israelis pulled back over the weekend. Al-Halim and his wife Shamiah survived alone in theirhouse. In the last days of the siege, their food and waterran out.
®Everyday we had only one candy each, one candy that is all,¯ Mehdi said, pulling his pants to show the weighthe'd lost. ®How much you eat in one day is how much wehave eaten in 20 days.¯
Shamiah, a petite 65-year-old with wire-rimmed glasses,talked about her children as she struggled toward a waiting ambulance. Three of her daughters were in Beirut but two ofher children were in the United States. ®My son is adoctor, in Boston,¯ she boasted in a tired voice.
Most of the town's population of 30,000 _ along with many vacationers from the West visiting relatives _ fled duringthe first weeks of bombardment. Those that remained wereeither too old to bear the journey out, or had children andwere afraid of the road, which eventually was cut off by bombs and missiles.
Some simply couldn't walk. Dibi Ismail, in her 70s, hadtripped over wires while scavenging for food in a bombedout store.
®I cut my hand and hurt my foot. For six days I can't move,¯ said Ismail, who wore nylons with gaping holes anda bandage black with dirt on her hand. Dozens of flies hadsettled around her face. At her foot was a small plastic bag with some old clothes.It was all she had.
On Monday, some had to walk al the way to the nearesthospital in Tibnin, 8 kilometers (5 miles) north. Later inthe day, the road was cleared and ambulances could make itin to clear others, like Rasnam Jumma, a diabetic with a partially amputated foot who had run out of her diabetesmedicine five days ago.
Two residents died as they tried to make it out, one ofmalnutrition, the other of heart failure, said NabilHarkus, a doctor in Tibnin. The Israeli assault on Bint Jbail had cut a swath ofdestruction right through the center of the town. Houseswere flattened, the faces of multistoried buildings shearedoff, girders snapped by the force of explosions lay on the road, fallen power lines snapped in the wind. The reservoirat the foot of the main street was a green stagnant pool.The road was peppered with spent ordnance. Yet Hezbollah flags still hung defiantly on shattered buildings. Rocket fire gouged holes in a four-foot cementportrait of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hussein Nasrallah thatstood at the foot of Bint Jbail's main street.



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