October 02, 2006

The Marwahin Massacre

Robert Fisk:
Ali Kemal drove north from Marwahin, away from the Israeli border, then west towards the sea. He must have seen the Israeli warship and the Israeli naval crew certainly saw Ali's pick-up. The Israelis had been firing at all vehicles on the roads of southern Lebanon for three days - they hit dozens of civilian cars as well as ambulances and never once explained their actions except to claim that they were shooting at "terrorists". At a corner of the road, where it descends to the sea, Ali Kemal suddenly realised his vehicle was overheating and he pulled to a halt. This was a dangerous place to break down. For seven minutes, he tried to restart the pick-up.

According to Mohamed's son Wissam, Ali - whose elderly mother Sabaha was sitting beside him in the front - turned to the children with the words: "Get out, all you children get out and the Israelis will realise we are civilians." The first two or three children had managed to climb out the back when the Israeli warship fired a shell...

Within a few seconds, Wissam says, an Israeli Apache helicopter arrived over the f vehicle, very low and hovering just above the children. "I saw Myrna still in the pick-up and she was crying and pleading for help. I went to get her and that's when the helicopter hit us. Its missile hit the back of the vehicle where all the children were and I couldn't hear anything because the blast had damaged my ears. Then the helicopter fired a rocket into the car behind the pick-up. But the pilot must have seen what he was doing. He could see we were mostly children. The pick-up didn't have a roof. All the children were crammed in the back and clearly visible."

Wissam talks slowly but without tears as he describes what happened next. "I lost sight of Myrna. I just couldn't see her any more for the dust flying around. Then the helicopter came back and started firing its guns at the children, at any of them who moved. I ran away behind a tel [a small hill] and lay there and pretended to be dead because I knew the pilot would kill me if I moved. Some of the children were in bits."

... "Every day is worse than the one before for me," Mohamed says. And he blames the world.


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