Death Toll Hits 1,300
By Robert Fisk
17 August 2006
are digging them up by the hour, the swelling death toll of the Lebanon
conflict. The American poet Carl Sandburg spoke of the dead in other
wars and imagined that he was the grass under which they would be buried.
"Shovel them under and let me work," he said of the dead of
Ypres and Verdun. But across Lebanon, they are systematically lifting
the tons of rubble of old roofs and apartment blocks and finding families
below, their arms wrapped around each other in the moment of death as
their homes were beaten down upon them by the Israeli air force. By
last night, they had found 61 more bodies, taking the Lebanese dead
of the 33-day war to almost 1,300.
In Srifa, south of the Litani
river, they found 26 bodies beneath ruins which I myself stood on just
three days ago. At Ainata, there were eight more bodies of civilians.
A corpse was discovered beneath a collapsed four-storey house north
of Tyre and, near by, the remains of a 16-year old girl, along with
three children and an adult. In Khiam in eastern Lebanon, besieged by
the Israelis for more than a month, the elderly village "mukhtar"
was found dead in the ruins of his home.
Not all the dead were civilians.
At Kfar Shuba, dumper-truck drivers found the bodies of four Hizbollah
members. At Roueiss, however, all 13 bodies found in the wreckage of
eight 10-storey buildings were civilians. They included seven children
and a pregnant woman. Ten more bodies were disentangled from the rubble
of the southern suburbs of Beirut - where local people claimed they
could still hear the screams of neighbours trapped far below the bomb-smashed
apartment blocks. The Lebanese civil defence organisation - almost as
brave as the Lebanese Red Cross in trying to save lives under fire -
believe at least three families may be trapped in basements deep below
Ignoring the dangers of unexploded
ordnance, several Lebanese Shia Muslims returned to their destroyed
homes to retrieve personal belongings - including family snapshots and
albums that contain the narrative of their lives - only to fall between
gaps in the broken apartment blocks and plunge dozens of feet into the
darkness beneath. Among the last to die only minutes before the UN ceasefire
came into effect was a child who was found in her dead mother's arms
How many of these dead would
have survived if George Bush and Tony Blair had demanded an immediate
ceasefire weeks ago will never be known. But many would have had the
chance of life had Western governments not regarded this dirty war as
an "opportunity" to create a "new" Middle East by
humbling Iran and Syria.
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited