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Fighting Continues to Escalate Between Israel and Hezbollah

July 28, 2006 at 6:10 PM EDT

JIM LEHRER: In Israel and Lebanon, trying to escape the shelling. We start with a report from Nahariya, Israel. The correspondent is John Irvine of Independent Television News.

JOHN IRVINE, ITV News Correspondent: That’s the sound of Hezbollah rockets landing here this evening, two of them. Thankfully they only started bush fires, but they were uncomfortably close.

Deserted times are the result of this and the response of Israeli artillery. It’s around-the-clock, unnerving noise, almost enough to wake the dead.

This afternoon, more Hezbollah missiles struck Israel’s most northerly hospital. It’s five miles from Lebanon. We were in the same hospital this morning. The corridors and wards are empty.

However, as the director showed me, the patients and staff have not gone far. They’ve been taken underground to be looked after and protected by a thick ceiling of reinforced concrete. This is a fully functioning subterranean hospital.

Until July the 12th, this place had lain dormant for years. It was the facility administrators hoped they would never have to use. In the event, they moved 180 patients down here and had the place up and running within an hour.

Some of the patients here are victims of Hezbollah rockets which are laced with shrapnel. Medical care in a bunker: It’s been like this for two-and-a-half weeks now.

You were the man who had to make the decision to come underground. It must have been a sad one to make.

DR. MOSHE DANIEL, Director, Western Galilee Hospital: Yes, absolutely. It was 1:00 in the morning, Wednesday night, weeks ago, and it was really bad, but we did already a lot of drills, and we knew how to do it.

JOHN IRVINE: They can keep going down here for months if needs be, despite the fact it’s always busy. There’s never a shortage of visitors in the safest place in town.

Damage in Lebanon

JIM LEHRER: And from Lebanon, a report from Julian Manyon of Independent Television News. He traveled south of Tyre today.

JULIAN MANYON, ITV News Correspondent: We set out in mid-morning in a convoy that had formed chaotically in Tyre. Some Red Cross and voluntary workers, some Lebanese taxi drivers hoping to make big money, and about 20 cars containing journalists.

We were heading for an area near the border where thousands of refugees are said to be trapped. To get there, we drove down miles of deserted roads, through areas of devastation caused by Israeli bombing. Cars blown apart, buildings wrecked by powerful explosions.

The Israeli forces told us they would not guarantee our safety, but at regular intervals we phoned them to give them our position. The only traffic: a few carloads of people fleeing in the other direction. And then, as the road was blocked by a herd of animals, we saw refugees trying to get out on foot. They told us they had walked for three hours. They had no money for transport.

The Muslim villages we passed were damaged and silent. These places have been the focus of Israel's attacks. Then, we got to a Christian village called Rmeish to find a scene of chaos and despair. Terrified Muslims have fled here and are now desperate to get out to the north.

LEBANESE RESIDENT: Please, please, we want a lot of buses and cars to get rid us from this region. This region is under the fire, violent fire.

JULIAN MANYON: All around us, people in great distress, mothers trying to console their frightened children. They are living in appalling conditions. Women are forced to use the foul green water that comes from a stagnant pond in the center of the village.

The situation in this village is desperate, and apparently things are even worse at our original destination, Yaroun, just down the road over there. But it seems that we won't be going there. The Israeli forces have told us by telephone that Yaroun is now the scene of combat and under bombardment. They've told us firmly that we must not go there.

As our convoy turned around, people begged us to take them on board. The Lebanese taxi drivers were charging 300 pounds a passenger.

As we drove back, a shell, seemingly fired from the Israeli side, exploded near the convoy behind us. A journalist and two Lebanese suffered light injuries.