The massacre and destruction of southern Lebanon: Brian O Dubliagh reports from Lebanon on the human cost of Israel's latest attacks on its neighbour.

Author:Dubliagh, Brian O.
 
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IT'S NOT JUST the scale of the human rights violations inflicted on the Lebanese that shocked. Although the numbers were immense--over 1,000 people killed, and Israeli air raids forcing about a quarter of the country's population to leave their homes--the nature of the individual atrocities was just as startling. UN workers attacked and killed at their observation post. Red Cross staff, believing they had negotiated 'safe passage' with the Israeli Army, were killed. UN lorries carrying desperately needed food and medicine for civilians were denied permission to travel by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). A single attack on a building in Qana on 30 July killed dozens of civilians, half of them children. Another at Al Qaa the following Friday killed at least 23 Syrian agricultural workers when Israeli forces launched two air strikes against the farm while the workers--fruit and vegetable pickers, mostly Syrians--were eating lunch. When the Palestinian refugee camp at Ein El Hilweh near Sidon was attacked twice, and two people killed, you began to wonder if there were any rules at all to this war.

Elsewhere near Sidon, in the suburb of Al Ghazieh, Israeli planes attacked at breakfast time on Monday 7 August. Several homes were hit, and in the afternoon people were still digging into the rubble. At one site a crowd of several dozen people were trying to help clear the concrete and support the emergency services. Some heavy lifting equipment was heaving away large pieces of fallen concrete, and special pipe-cutting machinery was being used to clear the debris. The emergency services appeared to believe that one person at least might still be alive under the fallen concrete, and repeatedly shouted into the rubble in the hope of hearing an answering call. An ambulance was brought to the site, and medics dressed in orange boiler suits from the Lebanese Red Cross waited in anticipation they would be needed to help survivors. Several photographers and TV crews jostled for the best angle in the hope that someone would emerge alive from the smoking concrete.

Even with heavy machinery, it was a slow process. They had started soon after the morning attacks, and by 4pm there still appeared a long way to dig down into the debris. Further along the road half a dozen cars lay crushed and incinerated by the other bombs. Multi-storey buildings had been flattened, and one family had lost the outer wall of their living room. This site was bigger than the last...

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