Archive for Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mass burials begin in village

On Muslim holy day, families mourn victims of bombing at Qana

August 19, 2006

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— In Lebanon, the village of Qana has become a symbol of death.

On Friday, women held portraits of their lost loved ones with plastic roses taped to them and rocked back and forth in tears, kissing the pictures. In the afternoon, hundreds of mourners watched as the bodies of 28 people who were killed in an Israeli airstrike July 30 in Qana were buried.

The attack sparked an international outcry against the killings of civilians in Lebanon. The number of dead originally was estimated at 56, and the exact number remains unclear.

"What did Khadeeja do?" Fairouz Younes asked between sobs. The attack killed Younes' sister and her five children.

"Ask Israel: Are these resistance? These children?" said Fatma Ghadboun, 32, as she passed water to the weeping women.

Friday was the fifth day of a tenuous cease-fire after more than a month of heavy conflict that began after a cross-border attack in which Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others. Above the crowd of mourners was the sound of Israeli aircraft.

A Lebanese woman grieves next to the grave of her loved one, in front of his picture, before a mass funeral procession in the southern village of Qana, Lebanon. Friday's procession was for the Lebanese victims of the July 30 Israeli forces' attack on Qana. The Israeli airstrike killed as many as 56 Lebanese, mostly women and children, when it leveled a building where they had taken shelter.

A Lebanese woman grieves next to the grave of her loved one, in front of his picture, before a mass funeral procession in the southern village of Qana, Lebanon. Friday's procession was for the Lebanese victims of the July 30 Israeli forces' attack on Qana. The Israeli airstrike killed as many as 56 Lebanese, mostly women and children, when it leveled a building where they had taken shelter.

Across southern Lebanon, Muslims buried their dead on the first Muslim holy day since the cease-fire went into effect. As families came to claim their dead at the government hospital in Tyre, workers dug up the mass graves where bodies had been buried after the hospital's storage facilities filled. About 300 bodies were claimed, according to hospital records, and 50 remained.

"I don't want to talk to get pity," said Mohammed Shalhoub, a disabled man who was injured in the early-morning attack. He lost his daughter, his sister and his brother. "These are the terrorists that the Americans are killing through Israel: us and our children."

Hezbollah members on a pickup truck led the funeral procession in Qana, calling out to the crowd of hundreds. The people wept as they followed the coffins. The procession included the bodies of four Hezbollah fighters who were killed in separate incidents. The fighters' coffins were wrapped in green and yellow Hezbollah flags, and those of the people killed in the airstrike were covered with Lebanese flags.

Many of them were children. Their bodies were taken from wooden coffins that had been stored in a refrigerated truck at the government hospital in Tyre and placed in individual graves in a field near the house that had been struck.

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