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Families Fear For Loved Ones In Mid East War Zone
CBS 2 News
July 20, 2006

By Jim Williams

(CBS) CHICAGO There is no end in sight to the escalating violence in the Middle East, and evacuees can’t get out fast enough.

The first planes carrying American evacuees are arriving on U.S. soil. One group of Lebanese-Americans was forced to leave Beirut after fighting broke out with Israel more than a week ago. They said they were terrified when bombs shook their homes.

Some 8,000 of the 25,000 U.S. citizens in Lebanon want to be evacuated. On Thursday, U.S. Marines on the beaches of Beirut helped them to escape.

Residents in the battle zone, and those evacuated from it, are begging for international intervention.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports on the agony of people separated by the conflict.

Their appeal was emotional, their criticism was harsh.

"It is to condemn the murder of civilians whether it be at the hands of Arab militants murdering innocent Jewish life or at the hands of Jewish-Israeli soldiers murdering innocent Palestinian, Lebanese life,” said Ahmed Rehab with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Some Chicago Muslims said Israel is killing innocent Lebanese citizens, and the United States should pressure Israel to stop it.

"To kill hundreds of civilians for the sake of two captured Israeli soldiers who are still alive is to desecrate the sanctity of human life,” said Christina Abraham.

Abraham has 50 relatives in Lebanon. She says they are suffering, living in bomb shelters and fleeing to Syria.

“We've spoken to them and they want Americans to know about the senseless destruction of their beautiful country,” she said.

Israel’s consul general in Chicago says he understands their anguish, but that they should direct their anger toward Hezbollah and the Lebanese government.

“They should make sure that Hezbollah will stop the terroristic campaign against the state of Israel. They should make sure that their emotional anguish will resonate with the Lebanese government, that they will extend their forces all the way to the south of the country, dismantle Hezbollah and this thing is over," Consul General Barukh Binah said.

The consul general says his fellow Israelis are suffering as well. There is fear and anger on both sides in the Middle East and here in Chicago.

(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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