Part 1 of 2
By Liz Lucas
Amidst the rubble some items nudged out: A bassinette, a teapot, cracked frames and ripped photographs. By my foot was a piece of cracked plastic and pages of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” fluttered by. I was standing on what once was a family’s home.
In a country that has seen substantial devastation by the war, the house in Zlitan stood out for being virtually obliterated. This wasn’t hit with an RPG, or machine gunned. It had been flattened by NATO bombs in August, air support reserved for strategic Gaddafi military targets. But there were clear indications that something had gone terribly wrong in this instance. A woman’s high-heeled shoe. Shards of cracked china. A wall splattered by blood.
People in the area told us there is no military target nearby and that Zlitan is composed primarily of civilians, despite the fierce fighting there this summer. It’s a town divided by loyalties to the rebels and to Muammer Gaddafi’s regime, but its inhabitants are mostly civilians. People we spoke to stressed that they had the right to have their own opinions without being harmed, that they were civilians in a war.
“We want to know why,” said Ali Ali Mustafah Gamez, the owner of another destroyed house, who had family come to Zlitan to escape the war. Ali lost thirteen members of his family to the rockets and wants answers from NATO. “We get by with patience,” he added.
In total, three houses in the neighborhood were destroyed on August 8th and emotions run high when talking about the destruction and casualties, which locals put as around 35 people dead and 85 admitted to the hospital. The wounded are receiving medical treatment in Tunisia.
Losses are especially great due to a second rocket hitting those who came to help. Neighbors finishing Ramadan prayers came to see what the problem was. Many more were killed in the second strike.