Fleeing Lebanon villagers caught in Israeli inferno
By Hussein Saad
07/15/06 TYRE, Lebanon (Reuters) - The child was holding a sandwich
when an Israeli missile killed him and 19 other people fleeing their
Lebanese border village in a van.
Two little blackened hands could be seen still clutching the bread
to the child's chest when U.N. peacekeepers recovered the corpse
along with the bodies of some of the others.
Half the passengers were children or teenagers, according to medical
It was the deadliest single strike since Israel launched an air
campaign against Lebanon after two of its soldiers were captured by
Hizbollah militants on Wednesday.
Relatives gathered at a hospital to identify the dead said they came
from two families -- Abdallah and Ghanem -- and were trying to
escape their village of Marwaheen.
The families had fled after the Israeli army told residents they had
just hours to leave.
Around 100 residents showed up at a nearby base of the U.N. Interim
Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) seeking shelter but went home after
officials were unable to confirm the warning by Israel, UNFIL
spokesman Milos Strugar told Reuters.
Other residents had tried later to leave and were killed in the
missile strike, Strugar said, adding Lebanese authorities had asked
UNIFIL to help evacuate 120-160 people remaining in Marwaheen. They
would be relocated in the morning.
Relatives blamed UNIFIL for the deaths, pelting peacekeepers with
stones when they arrived with the bodies after the strike.
"If they had taken people in to begin with then they would never
have died," said Mohammed Oqla, who was at the hospital.
At least 97 civilians have been killed and some 300 wounded by
Israeli strikes in the bloodiest violence since its 1996 Grapes of
Wrath campaign aimed at ending Hizbollah attacks on Israeli troops
who then occupied southern Lebanon.
In that campaign, 106 Lebanese civilians were killed when Israeli
aircraft struck a base run by U.N. peacekeepers in Qana where
villagers had sought shelter.
The deaths increased international pressure on the Jewish state that
resulted in an understanding that neither Hizbollah nor Israel would
Four Israeli civilians have been killed by Hizbollah rockets fired
into northern Israel since Wednesday.
Copyright © 2005 Reuters
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