VOA Correspondent Challiss McDonough has been reporting from Beirut since last week, but has only rarely been able to venture into the southern suburbs, which have been heavily bombed. Hezbollah's offices are there, its radio and television stations are there, and the home of its leader Hassan Nasrallah is there, and all of them have been repeatedly struck. Thursday Challiss and other journalists went on a bizarre guided tour of the devastation led by the Hezbollah spokesman. Challiss recorded this report from the scene.
"This is Challiss McDonough. I'm in a neighborhood in south Beirut. We're being taken on a tour by the spokesman for Hezbollah. He's been showing us, a large number of journalists, the damage from recent bombing raids. I'm now standing next to a building that was apparently hit quite recently. There's still smoke coming out of the pile of rubble that the building used to be.
The Hezbollah spokesman, Hussein Nabolsi, has been defending his organization against allegations that they, by their actions, have brought this upon the people of Lebanon and brought this upon this neighborhood, that Hezbollah located its headquarters in civilian neighborhoods, thus putting them at risk of this kind of retaliatory attack by the Israelis. The Hezbollah spokesman, very adamant, says that Hezbollah is defending Lebanon.
I'm sorry, I'm trying to step over piles of rubble as I'm speaking. The street is just, it's obliterated. It's just like there are pieces of bricks and twisted metal strewn everywhere from building after building after building that's been demolished. We're seeing weird remnants of things that have survived intact. Theres a plastic chair in the middle of the road, a child's teddy bear and a wicker basket. There's a shoe. There's a perfectly intact envelope from the Islamic Health Society lying on the ground. This neighborhood has been absolutely destroyed. "