Shadid in Beirut Offers Frank Look at Israeli Attacks

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By: E&P Staff

While much of the media, particularly cable news, continues to provide a largely black and white view of the current crisis in the Middle East, with U.S.-backed Israel as the righteous party, Anthony Shadid of The Washington Post and Megan Stack of the Los Angeles Times, now in Beirut, have painted with colors.

Shadid, the recent Pulitzer winner who has covered the region for many years, highlighted civilian casualties in Lebanon at the outset — an approach common in European papers — and quickly described the “assymetrical” nature of the battle.

“In a war that has witnessed an escalation each day, the asymmetrical nature of the conflict was laid bare Saturday: For each attack by Hezbollah since it captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, Israel has inflicted a far greater price,” he wrote. “It has systematically dismantled the country’s infrastructure, displaced thousands of residents and instilled a new sense of foreboding and fear in the now-deserted streets of this brash, confident city still shadowed by the legacy of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.”

Israel has been widely condemned, outside the United States, for a disproportionate use of force.

Afte describing the many children who have been killed, their bodies burned and dismembered, Shadid related, “The scope of Israeli attacks broadened across the country — on gas stations, fuel tanks, roads and the last bridge on the highway to Damascus, the main artery out of the country. Ports were struck in Tripoli and the Christian towns of Juniyah and Amsheet. After nightfall, Israeli aircraft attacked what appeared to be Hezbollah offices in the eastern city of Baalbek, near the Syrian border….

“Columns of smoke billowed across the sky, parallel to fuel depots still burning at the Beirut airport. At one point around dusk, blasts could be heard every few minutes in the nearly empty streets. In all, police said Israeli attacks since Wednesday had killed 92 people and wounded 250, almost all of them civilians….

“In parts of Beirut, sentiments were growing angry, frustrated and scared. To many, the conflict seems unbridgeable: No one expects Hezbollah to surrender its arms, and no one expects Israel to end its attack without something strategic exchanged. Left in the middle is a city that spent billions of dollars rebuilding from the civil war’s destruction….

“Mohammed Hassan left the southern city of Sidon on Thursday, piling his family of 14 in a red 1980 Mercedes. ‘
His month-old daughter, Fatima, napped in a classroom. Other relatives strolled outside on a cloudy day. ‘It’s in God’s hands now,’ Hassan said. ‘I don’t know how this is going to end. Actually, no one does.'”

Also from besieged Beirut, Megan K. Stack wrote another lengthy report for the Los Angeles Times, which opened : “After years of taking on debt, forgiving their neighbors and hiding the scars of civil war, the people of Lebanon are watching with dread as their carefully rebuilt country splinters around them.

“The last four days of Israeli airstrikes have shattered bridges, bloodied children and wasted roads. But they also mark another cycle of destruction for this seaside city, forcing some to wonder whether their country is cursed to live in perpetual violence and others to gird defiantly for another round of death and destruction. ‘We feel raped,’ intoned Camille Younis, a burly man with bags under his eyes and reddish hair giving way to gray. ‘We never, never, never expected anything like this.’

“It was Saturday afternoon, the city smothered in sticky heat. The deep rumbles of explosions from the south shook the floor under Younis’ feet. His car rental agency was the only shop on a strip of newly rebuilt downtown real estate that had bothered to open its doors under Israeli bombardment. The place was deserted.”

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