Stricken … the wreckage of the Zabad family’s car.
Photo: Jeroen Kramer
At least one of the missiles struck on or near the back of the car, blowing the bumper off and starting a fire, but Zein Zabad managed to drive another 200 meters before crashing outside Najem Hospital on the outskirts of Tyre. A trail of debris stretched back along the road – children’s shoes, the car’s bumper, one of the white flags that the passengers had been waving in the hope of finding mercy in the sky.
Inside the stricken car were Zein Zabad, 45, his wife, Alia Tame, 39, daughter, Abiye, 13, and sons Hussein, 10, Khalid, 8, and Hassan, 7. There were also three injured members of the Srour family, whom Zabad had stopped to rescue after a helicopter attacked their car a few kilometres down the road.
Medical staff dragged all the victims from the wreck, injured but alive, before the fire reached the petrol tank. Just as the flames flared up a Red Cross ambulance came careering past the burning car, from the road to the south.
The ambulance contained six members of the Shaayto family from Tyre. There were two women, two girls, two little boys, survivors from a minivan crammed with 19 people that had just been attacked as it tried to escape Israel’s killing zone.
Kathar Shaayto, a 10-year-old girl, had tears on her face but her voice was calm as she lay on a trolley and talked to the doctors studying the large piece of shrapnel embedded in her hand.
“My father is dead,” she told them. “My mother has multiple injuries. I don’t know about the others.” Then she broke down.
Kathar Shaayto’s cousins Ali, 14, and Abbas, 10, suffered little more than scratches, so the harried nurses left them in a room upstairs with no one to talk to but foreign reporters. “My grandmother was still alive when I last saw her, she was still breathing,” Ali said. “She was trapped in the car and no one could get her out.” Then he too broke down.
From the next room 13 year-old Zeinab Hayda watched curiously. She had come in five days before, wounded when Israeli missiles attacked a three-car convoy fleeing the border village of Aitaroun.
Reports continued to come in of Israeli targeted air strikes against civilians trying to comply with Israel’s orders to flee their villages along the border.