Bearing Witness

Civilian Toll Mounts in Lebanon Conflict
At Hospitals in Tyre, Cries Go Up Among Wounded for Slain Loved Ones


Read this story. This is real journalism: "I was there. I saw this. This is what happened." No watering-down with weasel words and justifications, no shoe-horning of chest-thumping rhetoric fro
m the rainmakers of deathstorms. Real journalism, the straight stuff -- on the front page of the Washington Post, no less. Who says the age of miracles is over?

This is also the real picture of the "war on terror," which has killed far more civilians
– by several magnitudes – than terrorists. This is the reality of the "opportunity" that Bush always says he sees in war: "Through my tears, I see opportunity," he said while the Twin Towers were still smoldering; the war of aggression against Iraq was an "opportunity" to "remake the Middle East;" and now this proxy WOT, Israel's wanton destruction of Lebanon, is an "opportunity" to "clarify the situation" or the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" or some other mush-mouthed bullshit dribbling from the Great Leader's gob or from the snapping orifices of his Foxidated spokesminions. Such is the hideous moral calculus of raw, blind, blunt power; such is the depravity of these bloodthirsty Bushist goons.

Excerpts from the WP: The day ended in Tyre as it began, with a desperate cry of grief. "Where's my father? Where's my father?" asked Mahmoud Srour, an 8-year-old whose face was burned beyond recognition after an Israeli missile struck the family's car Sunday. His mother, Nouhad, lurched toward his hospital bed, her eyes welling with tears. "Is he coming?" he asked her.

"Don't worry about your father," she said, her words broken by sobs.Barely conscious, bewildered, he lay with his eyes almost swollen shut. His head lolled toward her. A whisper followed. "Don't cry, mother," he told her.

Mahmoud's father, Mohammed, was dead. An Israeli missile had struck their green Mercedes as they fled the southern town of Mansuri, where the family had been vacationing. The boy's uncle, Darwish Mudaihli, was dead, too. The bodies were left in the burning car. Mahmoud's sister Mariam, 8 months old, lay next to him, staring at the ceiling with a Donald Duck pacifier in her mouth. Her eyes were open but lifeless, a stare that suggested having seen too much. Her hair was singed, her face slightly burned. Blisters swelled the tiny fingers on her left hand to twice their size. In other beds of Najm Hospital were their other brothers, 13-year-old Ali and 15-year-old Ahmed. "What happened?" Ahmed shouted to no one in particular.

It was a question asked often Sunday in Tyre and its hinterland, a bloody day for civilians, even by the standards of this war. Israeli forces repeatedly struck cars on southern Lebanon's already perilous roads in attacks that victims said were indiscriminate. Seven people were killed, three of them when an Israeli helicopter fired a missile at a white minibus carrying 19 people fleeing the village of Tairi, which Israeli forces had ordered residents to evacuate. The missile tore through the roof of the vehicle as it sped around a bend in the road. Layal Najib, a 23-year-old photographer for the Lebanese magazine al-Jaras, was killed when Israeli forces struck near her taxi outside the town of Qana to the northwest. She was the first journalist killed in the 12-day conflict.

"Are there any armed men here? Is there any resistance here?" asked Ali Najm, a physician helping to treat the injured in Tyre. He surveyed the wounded, struggling to maintain the detachment of a medical professional and suppress the anger of a neighbor watching a war that he said he did not understand. "There is no aim to this," he said. "They are innocent people. They are carrying white flags, and they're trying to escape."

… The day before in Bint Jbeil, two cars carrying seven people were following a Red Cross ambulance when one was wrecked in an Israeli attack, he said. Two wounded women were put in the trunk of the other car. They had died when they arrived at the hospital in Tyre…

"We didn't feel anything. We didn't see anything coming down," said Ali Shaita, a stocky 14-year-old, whose uncle, Mohammed, and grandmother, Nazira, were killed in the attack on the minibus. "It just hit us," said his 12-year-old brother, Abbas.

Ali sat in a bed at Najm Hospital, holding his IV. He was wounded in his chest and left leg. Blood, his and that of his relatives, drenched his red shorts. His brother was hurt in his right leg, head and right arm. His jeans were splotched with more blood. In another room, their mother, Muntaha, sobbed. Her head was wounded, as was her left arm. Her femur was broken in the attack.

"The bandages are too tight on my head," she pleaded to a nurse.

The Shaitas said the car was speeding out of the village at midmorning. The boys' uncle was carrying a white flag with his hand, as was another passenger. Soon after they were hit, a Red Cross ambulance arrived, the crew worried about roads they deemed too risky….
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