Forging a shunpike; bridging the River Litani
With all of the Litani River's bridges destroyed by Israel, the Lebanese improvise to supply the South with aid
By ANTHONY SHADID
Washington Post Foreign Service
Over a few hours, Hezbollah's shadowy organization emerged on the banks of the Litani. "Don't take pictures!" one of the men shouted.
The dozens of black bags, filled with tuna, sardines, rice, processed cheese, sugar and tea, were marked with stickers in red and green. "A Gift, the Red Crescent Society, the Islamic Republic of Iran," they read. Scrawled on one car was a prayer: "Under the protection of the merciful." Around them hurried men with walkie-talkies and cellphones, furtively glancing at sounds of war above.
They worked with precision -- everyone had a job, hardly a movement was wasted.
And they worked with speed -- no one knew when one of the distant sounds might signal an Israeli attack.
But a guerrilla war dictates resilience, and along patches of the Litani, shrouded by wilting banana plantations and parched citrus groves, the provisions and casualties of battle passed Wednesday where there was no passing. With the supplies came the wounded fighters, ferried by the Red Cross across a fallen tree further up the river, and with the wounded came more bread, hand-carried over rushing waters where a bridge once stood.
"Let's push!" one man ordered.
A red Toyota pickup truck was stuck three-quarters across the Litani and, 20 yards away, a white truck was sinking into the river after trying to cross a makeshift bridge of blue steel plates perched on mounds of gravel and sand.
The driver gunned the Toyota, then its engine stalled. Five men attached a long wire, then tried to pull the pickup up the bank.
"Come on guys!" one of them yelled.
Source: Washington Post, Thursday, August 10, 2006; Page A01
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