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In a Hezbollah Stronghold Children Pay the Price


In a Hezbollah Stronghold Children Pay the Price

By Hassan M. Fattah
The New York Times
Monday 17 July 2006

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Tyre, Lebanon - Just a week ago, Tyre was an idyllic seaside town on the Mediterranean sea, a fledgling tourist spot with everything from scuba diving to fishing cruises, populated by a mixture of Christians and Shiite Muslims.

Posters herald a concert by Nancy Ajram, one of the hottest pop singers in the Arab world. But this town is also the gateway to Hezbollah country, where Hezbollah controls everything from local administration and schools to security. Hezbollah has its footprint everywhere here, from its signature yellow banners to portraits celebrating fallen martyrs.

So for the past six days Israeli aircraft have sought to bomb Tyre and the area south of here to submission, while refugees fleeing the bombing have turned the town into a path to safety in the north.

"This is a war of nerves," said Khalid Mehdi, 50, a fisherman who sat near the city's harbor with several of his friends Monday in a rare moment of quiet. "Don't be fooled by quiet, be afraid of it."

Saturday and Sunday saw the heaviest bombing in southern Lebanon. On Sunday, at least 10 people, including children, were killed when a bomb targeting the civil defense headquarters here demolished the two top floors of the building. Their mangled bodies were pulled out of the rubble Monday.

Not far from here, near the village of Marwaheen, a van filled with families fleeing the bombing was hit in an air attack Saturday, killing 15 of 20 aboard. And Monday afternoon three children who were swimming in an irrigation canal were bombed on the edge of the city, severely injuring them. Hours later, another group of children were injured in an identical incident. Late Sunday, a residential building adjacent to the Amel Hospital on the outskirts of town was bombed repeatedly, locals said.

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