Marwahin, 15 July 2006: The anatomyof a massacre
A special report by Robert Fisk
Saturday, 30 September 2006
In antiquity, Pliny wrote of the cliffs of Bayada. The chalk runs down to theMediterranean in an almost Dover-like cascade of white rock, and the view from the top - just below the little Lebanese village of Chama'a - is breathtaking. To the south lies theUnited Nations headquarters and the Israeli frontier, to the north the city of Tyre, its long promentary, built by Alexander the Great, lunging out into the green-blue sea. A winding, poorly-made road runs down to the shore below Chama'a and for some reason - perhaps because he had caught sight of the Israeli warship off the coast - 58-year-old Ali KemalAbdullah took a right turn above the Mediterranean on the morning of 15 July. In theopen-topped pick-up behind him, Ali had packed 27 Lebanese refugees, most of themchildren. Twenty-three of them were to die within the next 15 minutes.The tragedy of these poor young people and of their desperate attempts to survive their repeated machine-gunning from the air is as well-known in Lebanon as it is alreadyforgotten abroad. War crimes are easy to talk about when they have been committed inRwanda or Bosnia; less so in Lebanon, especially when the Israelis are involved. But allthe evidence suggests that what happened on this blissfully lovely coastline two and ahalf months ago was a crime against humanity, one that is impossible to justify on anymilitary grounds since the dead and wounded were fleeing their homes on the expressorders of the Israelis themselves.Mohamed Abdullah understands the reality of that terrible morning because his 52-year-old wife Zahra, his sons Hadi, aged six, and 15-year-old Wissam, and his daughters,Marwa, aged 10, and 13-year old Myrna, were in the pick-up. Zahra was to die. So wasHadi and the beautiful little girl Myrna whose photograph - with immensely intelligent,appealing eyes - now haunts the streets of Marwahin. Wissam, a vein in his leg cut open by an Israeli missile as he vainly tried to save Myrna's life, sits next to his father as hetalks to me outside their Beirut house, its walls drenched in black cloth."From the day of the attack until now, lots of delegations have come to see us,"Mohamed says. "They all talk and it is all for nothing. My problem is with a huge nation.Can the international community get me my rights? I am a weak person, unprotected. Iam a 53-year-old man and I've been working as a soldier for 29 years, day and night, to be productive and to support a family that can serve society and that can be a force for good in this country. I was able to build a home in my village for my wife and children -with no help from anyone - and I did this in 2000, 23 years after I was driven out of Marwahin and I finished our new home this year." And here Mohamed Abdullah stopsspeaking and cries.