Hundreds of Lebanese limped north to safety Monday after weeks spent trapped by fighting between Israel and Hezbollah – including the war’s bloodiest ground battle. Some had survived on candy and dirty water. Two died on the road out.
Those residents of Bint Jbail who didn’t flee went into hiding when Israel started its bombardment July 12. They hunkered down deeper eight days ago when Israeli forces launched their ground assault on the border town, a Hezbollah stronghold with a legendary history of supporting the Shiite guerrillas.
Israeli troops met fierce guerrilla resistance before they withdrew from Bint Jbail on Saturday, leaving behind a swath of destruction.
Buildings were collapsed on each other. The fronts of other buildings were sheared off. Fallen power lines crisscrossed roads. Charred hulks of smashed cars lined the main street. A stone monument to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was blasted full of holes.
Rimah Bazzi, an American visiting from Dearborn, Mich., spent the siege with her two daughters, son and mother hiding in the house of a local doctor.
“All the time I thought of death,” said Bazzi, in her late 30s. Her husband was home in Dearborn and she was unable to speak to him for weeks.