The Digital Journalist
Coming on the heels of the bombing in Qana, the 48-hour "cease-fire" proved to be another public-relations disaster for the Israeli government. Belying their claims that ample time had been given for residents to flee the south Lebanon battlefield – which also implied that all who remained were either Hezbollah fighters or their collaborators – rescuers found thousands of civilians who had been trapped throughout the region. Many were elderly, who had either been too infirm to join in the general exodus of the war's first days, or too poor to pay the often-extortionist fares charged by taxi drivers for passage out. In Bint Jebail, a front-line town that had been largely reduced to rubble during two weeks of intense Israeli bombardment, searchers found scores of elderly, like this woman, living in the ruins or basements of their homes. As the 48-hour window drew to a close, the United Nations and a number of European governments pleaded with Israel for an extension to allow the search-and-rescue operations to continue. Instead, Israel resumed offensive operations.