Israeli Bombs Rain on Lebanon
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Today, heading into the second week of attacks across the border between Lebanon and Israel, the humanitarian situation in Lebanon is increasingly bad. And there is no sign of a let up in the attacks on either side. There were gunfights between Israel soldiers and Hezbollah fighters just north of the border, with both sides reporting a few deaths.
Hezbollah continued to send rockets into Israel, killing two people. Today at least 50 people in Lebanon were killed by Israeli air strikes. Lebanon's prime minister said that 300 have been killed all together in his country. He demanded that Israel compensate Lebanon for the destruction.
SIEGEL: Anthony Shadid, foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, is in Tyre. That's the city in the south of the country. It's about 12 miles north of the Israeli border on the Mediterranean. What sense do you get of the fighting there today?
Mr. ANTHONY SHADID (The Washington Post): It's difficult to say. There has been quite a bit fighting going on in the rest of southern Lebanon. That's according to Red Cross officials. In Tyre itself, there have been strikes. There have been even more strikes along the road. As we were traveling here from Beirut, we could see shelling going on the bluffs overlooking the street. At one point we had to turn around as well because there was shelling going on before us on the main highway that goes along the coast.
Traffic was desperate. You know, every car that you pass was flying a white flag. They had rolled them up in their windows, it was from the antenna, from the sun roof, some people were just holding it as a flagpole outside their window.
SIEGEL: Now are people from points closer to the Israeli border, have they gone to Tyre? Is this a place where they are people who have evacuated from the actual border area?
Mr. SHADID: I think you saw that flight in the first few days. What you're seeing now is that the roads have become simply too dangerous and this is what we're starting to see as a humanitarian disaster unfolding in Tyre. Where I'm at right now along the coast, hundreds of people have just sought shelter here waiting for some promised evacuation. That's not very clear if it's going to happen or not.
Also in the city, it's a ghost town. Anybody who hasn't left is hiding in their homes. There's no shops open. People complain about food and water dwindling. Electricity and water themselves were cut the second day of the attack. It's becoming more desperate with each passing hour.
SIEGEL: You say electricity and water have both been cut off. Are there functioning hospitals in Tyre at this point?
Mr. SHADID: I was at the hospital today and the doctors there had been working basically eight days straight. In fact one doctor took me into a room and said, here I want to show you something. He brought me into the room, and in the room was his three children, his wife, his brother's wife and her three children all living in a small hospital room, too fearful to go home. The hospital does have supplies still, but they said they were running out of antibiotics, out of gauze, out of cotton, out of saline. And I think they had the same frustration that most people in the city have, and that's that they can't leave.
SIEGEL: Do you see any evidence in or around Tyre of Hezbollah fighters?
Mr. SHADID: There's no question that there's a presence here. And that missiles have probably been fired from near here. I haven't seen any evidence of it today. It's, Tyre is basically a ghost town. Really what you see, I saw a horse feeding in a traffic circle. You see a few stray dogs walking the streets. But otherwise it feels like the city itself is abandoned.
SIEGEL: Do you get some sense of the rhythm of these attacks now? Is it clearly a, however much public panic there may be, are there fewer attacks now than there were a couple of days ago? Does it seem to be some trend at all?
Mr. SHADID: Well, residents say, at least, what the Red Cross told me when I visiting them in Tyre earlier today, is that this is the worst day of attacks of by far. Now, their frustration is that they cannot get to people buried under the rubble. They have five ambulances. In one village called (unintelligible), they talked about 20 buildings collapsing in an air strike, dozens of people buried under the rubble. And that one ambulance is the only one able to get there and it couldn't stay for very long.
So I think, when we talk about the intensity of the attacks themselves, it definitely feels like it's worsening in the south, that's what people say. But I think what's probably more crucial at this point is this humanitarian crisis that we're starting to see. It's difficult to overstate how intense the siege is felt in a place like Tyre where people are just desperate to get out. I'd say five or six people have just so far come to be just burst into tears asking for a way - if I can help them find a way to get out.
SIEGEL: Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post in Tyre, Lebanon. Thank you very much for talking with us.
Mr. SHADID: My pleasure.
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