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'It is madness. Why is no one doing anything to stop this?'
Refugees head for safety of Beirut as Israeli jets destroy roads and bridges
AS DIRECTOR of the Jabel Amel hospital in Tyre, Ahmad Mrowe is no stranger to the violence that has racked this area for decades.
But as casualties soared and even ambulances and his own hospital were targeted by Israeli warplanes, the doctor said that the latest Israeli onslaught was the worst he had ever seen. “It is incomparable, much worse than anything before,” he said, as he stood in a sweltering corridor packed with relatives of the victims.
A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in southern Lebanon where the Israeli war machine, determined to destroy Hezbollah once and for all, has been pounding the scruffy villages that dot these stony hills and valleys.
It has warned Lebanese civilians to leave the area, and tens of thousands have been streaming north in battered cars, eight, nine or ten to a vehicle, to escape the fighting. But the Israelis have also destroyed the main roads and all the bridges over the Litani river, forcing many of the refugees to abandon their cars and wade across.
Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, spoke yesterday of an imminent humanitarian crisis and feared that the destruction of water, sewage and other infrastructure could compound the problem. The UN force in southern Lebanon said it could no longer deliver aid because the Israelis had failed to guarantee its convoys safe passage.
The Israeli offensive has been largely conducted away from the eyes of the foreign media, which have been stuck north of the Litani. To reach Tyre, normally an hour’s drive from Beirut down the coastal highway, required a tortuous and tense five-hour ordeal via the Chouf mountains yesterday. The winding mountain roads were clogged with traffic coming the other way as refugees inched to the relative safety of Beirut, where commandeered schools were overflowing with the displaced.