Sunday, August 20, 2006

A land reduced to rubble

Robert Fisk: A series of profound explosions from the south of Beirut; the Israelis "jostling the rubble" of the suburbs, as we now say, although who knows how many corpses lie in this pit? An Israeli calls me from Los Angeles. She thinks she has discovered a reason why the Lebanese Red Cross may have been targeted by the Israeli air force. "I will send you a fax proving that they are helping the Hizbollah," she says.

I await the fax, which turns out to be a New York Times report from southern Lebanon, recording how the Red Cross gave medical assistance to wounded members of the Hizbollah. I call Rachel back. The Lebanese Red Cross helped wounded American marines after they were suicide-bombed in Beirut in 1983, I tell her, and they gave help - and were criticised for it by their Lebanese neighbours - to wounded Israelis after a suicide bombing in Tyre the following year. Isn't it the duty of all Red Cross teams to help all those who are suffering? "Perhaps, but they should have detained the Hizbollah," comes the voice from Los Angeles. What? The Red Cross is now supposed to imprison Israel's enemies?

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