Paul Larudee

The damage against civilians

“You’re just a kid,” scoffed nonogenarian Ahmed Yehya al-Hajj when I told him I was sixty years old. “I have sons older than you and a grandson over fifty.” Ahmed is fortunate to be alive, and not just because of his age. He was visitiing one of his many offspring in the village of Houla when the house was struck by an Israeli missile. First reports were that as many as sixty people may have died, but in fact there was only one fatality and several very serious injuries, some permanent. Still bad enough, for those affected. The survivors showed me the remnants of the missile. They also shared the remnants of their hopes and dreams. 

The land is still there

By the time we returned to Siddiqine yesterday morning, someone had cleared the dead cows and hopefully adopted the new calf barely standing the night before. Other than that, there is little in the way of good news. Large areas of Siddiqine, Bint Jbeil and many other villages and towns are completely devastated. We spoke to one driver whose car was piled high with foam mattresses. He said he was from the local village but couldn’t figure out where his house had been. I filled my camera with frame after frame of destruction, but soon realized the futility of it all, and limited myself to shots that had a unique and often ironic twist to them. 

The next move

We almost went south again early this morning. At the meeting yesterday, ISM volunteer Alberto Cruz reported that on his factfinding tour he had come upon Israeli soldiers preventing entry to the village of Maroun al-Ras, not far from the route that my team took yesterday. The mayor, who lived just outside the village, had told him that he had had no contact with the villagers who had remained in the town, mostly old people, for several weeks, and was very worried for their welfare. Alberto and a Venezuelan journalist determined to find out for themselves and were turned away.