Wednesday, August 02, 2006

'This Is The Leg Of My Son' -- Israeli Nighttime Airstrikes And Commando Raid In Baalbek, Northeast Lebanon Kills 15 Civilians

"People in a village outside this Hezbollah stronghold used a front-end loader to carry away some of the dead Wednesday after a night of Israeli airstrikes and a commando raid inside Baalbek that residents said killed at least 15 civilians.

It was the deepest thrust into [northern]Lebanon by Israeli troops since fighting broke out between Israel and Hezbollah on July 12. Israel said its soldiers killed at least 10 Hezbollah guerrillas and captured five.

A crowd of about 50 people from the village of Al Jamaliyeh carried pictures of Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, during a funeral procession through the hamlet, which was hit by bombs overnight as Israeli commandos stormed a Hezbollah hospital in Baalbek a half-mile away.

The village's dead were shrouded in white cloth and carried to the cemetery in the bucket of a backhoe. The mayor, Hussein Jamaleddin, lost his son, brother and five other relatives. He broke down crying and pulled at the limbs of the dead hanging out of the scoop.

''This is the leg of my son. He was a sportsman, he did tae kwan do,'' Jamaleddin wailed.

People around Baalbek said the Dar Al-Hikma hospital was partially destroyed in overnight fighting, but an Associated Press photographer said the building appeared intact. Guards prevented journalists from entering.

The building's entrance was riddled with bullet holes and the door appeared to have been broken down. Two burned cars sat outside the three-story building and a minivan with shattered windows stood nearby, riddled with shrapnel and bullet holes.

A sign draped across the top floor read ''Dar Al-Hikma, Imam Khomeini's Charity Organization,'' and residents said it was financed by an Iranian charity with close ties to Hezbollah. Israel disputed the building was a hospital, saying it was used as a Hezbollah base.

Hezbollah fighters armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades fought Israeli troops at the building overnight, Hezbollah's chief spokesman, Hussein Rahal, said early Wednesday.

Another Hezbollah official said the building was empty, having been evacuated of patients and staff several days ago after Israelis attempted a similar helicopter raid.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements to the media, said Israelis captured ''four or five'' people in Baalbek, but not at the hospital. He said the captives were not Hezbollah fighters, but civilians, including a 60-year-old grocery store owner and construction workers.

People said airstrikes on villages within a half mile of the hospital killed at least 15 people, including a family of seven -- a mother, father and their five children -- in an area near Al Jamaliyeh." ...

Associated Press "Heavy Equipment Used to Bury the Dead" via New York Times August 2, 2006

Israeli Merkava MBT series tank. Merkava means "Chariot" in Hebrew.

Photo credit: War On-Line. Israeli Defense Forces. With thanks.


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