Saturday, July 15, 2006
'Israel Has Reached the End of the Road'
An account of one of Israel's daily massacres from Lebanon's Daily Star:
Friday, July 14, 2006
Southern village mourns family of 12
'Is This how ehud olmert takes his revenge?'
By Nicholas Blanford
Special to The Daily Star
DWEIR: Mohammad Akkash's voice cracks as he lists the names of his 10 grandchildren who were killed just hours earlier in an Israeli air raid on his eldest son's home. "The youngest one, Safat, was just six months old. Is a six-month-old baby a resistance fighter?" he asks. A paunchy man with grizzled crew cut, short white beard and weather-beaten face, Akkash stares bleakly at the ground as he sits outside his home in this village west of Nabatieh beneath a hastily erected awning to protect him and a dozen other male mourners from the noon sun.
Throughout the dusty hill villages and deep valleys of South Lebanon, similar displays of grief and anger were evident Thursday as the district reeled beneath the most intensive series of air strikes mounted by Israel since the Grapes of Wrath offensive in April 1996.
Sayyed Adil Akkash, a 41-year-old Shiite cleric allegedly connected to Hizbullah, was killed along with his wife and 10 children in a pre-dawn air raid in which up to four missiles struck his three-story home on a stony hillside outside Dweir. The missiles leveled the building completely, leaving a pile of rubble, twisted steel rods and coating a field of green tobacco plants in a thick layer of dark grey dust.
It took rescue workers two hours to extract the remains of 10 of the 12 victims. What was left of the other two corpses had yet to be recovered.
"The first one they brought in was just three years old. They brought her in pieces. First her head and then her arms," says a spokesman for the Sheikh Ragheb Harb Hospital in the nearby village of Toul, a Hizbullah-funded institution.
The hillside behind the flattened house was littered with torn books, mainly religious tracts, the pages of which rustled eerily in the hot wind.
"There's nothing that can justify something like this," says Hassan Ramal, who was knocked off his feet by the force of the early-morning air strike.
"Israel is acting the same way it is in Gaza. Why did they hit a house full of children? Is this how Ehud Olmert takes his revenge?"
In the distance, a muffled thump signals another bridge has been struck by Israeli aircraft and sent tumbling into the shallow waters of the Litani River.
Aircraft repeatedly struck at road and river bridges, effectively severing the beleaguered South from the rest of the country. Israeli aircraft finished destroying all the bridges crossing the Litani which had left untouched from the previous day. By mid-afternoon, it had become impossible to enter the border district along the coastal region, cutting off tens of thousands of civilians as well as UNIFIL peacekeepers deployed along the border who rely on the coastal route for resupply.
There was little traffic on the roads in the South. Nabatieh, a normally bustling market town, looked deserted, with shops closed and shuttered.
The whisper of Israeli jets could be heard as they passed high above, hidden by the scudding clouds.
The celebrations and joy in Shiite villages that greeted the news Wednesday that Hizbullah had captured and killed Israeli troops had turned into grim defiance. In an area where Hizbullah support remains strong, few residents would openly question the wisdom of the abduction operation.
"Hizbullah is an honor for us. Israel uses force and only understands force in return," said Adib Tarhina, 49.