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Innocent Civilians Caught in the Middle of War


Lebanon's peace has been shattered, warplanes have bombed the Gaza strip, and rockets are falling from the sky over Israel. VOA's Peter Fedynsky reports on the plight of people on all sides of the conflict who are among the dead, the injured and the traumatized.

A Hezbollah rocket struck the sixth floor of an apartment building in the Israeli town of Nahariya. A woman sitting on her balcony on the floor below was killed. Another rocket strike elsewhere in town underscores the role that luck plays in determining who lives and who dies.

One man said he feels lucky. "I work here in the office. I was lucky that I had to start at 9 in the morning and that it was 7:15 when the rocket exploded here and this is my desk. Of course, if I had been sitting here, I don't know if I would still be alive."

An infant is reported to be one of six children wounded by flying glass following Israel's attack on the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building in Gaza City.

Back in Israel, 460 patients in the Nahariya hospital were moved to a basement shelter. One mother describes giving birth to a child in such circumstances.

In Lebanon, tourist resorts have been emptied. Many vacationers from neighboring Arab countries quickly fled by car over a road that Israeli warplanes later destroyed. Other raids against Beirut airport have stranded thousands of travelers whose only way out was by air.

A tourist, prepared to go to Paris says his flight was canceled. "I was supposed to go to Paris, and all the planes were canceled. All the flights were cancelled, due to the bombing."

Americans with relatives in Lebanon or Israel worry about the safety of their loved ones.

Lobna Fakih is a pediatrician in Detroit, Michigan. Her husband and three sons are trapped in Lebanon. “I look at those pictures and my heart just drops but I have to just keep functioning and try to stay strong and figure out what I could do from this end to help them get back home."

Another Detroit resident, Richard Cohen, is equally concerned about people in Israel. "I can only imagine that the Israelis are very concerned about where the future course of events will be. They have been forced, many of them, to go into air raid shelters and they've seen missiles land with explosions in parts of their cities in Haifa and other cities."

Grieving relatives on all sides are now burying loved ones taken from them by a war that none of them wanted. As one person put it, "Always civilians get caught in the middle, unfortunately, in the middle of a war zone that they have nothing to do with."

As it happens, that was a statement by a resident of southern Lebanon. It could just as well have been said by an Israeli or Palestinian.

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