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Red Cross Openly Helping Hizballah

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Red Cross workers helped wounded Hezbollah fighters on a makeshift bridge at the Litani River in Lebanon on Wednesday.

At a Makeshift River Crossing in South Lebanon, Guerrillas Come Out in the Open. (Hat tip: Ron.)

QASMIYE, Lebanon, Aug. 9 — The wounded men moved slowly across the hot patch of cratered earth. Some limped. One used crutches. Two carried their own intravenous bags.

The secret war being waged by shadow militia fighters against the Israeli Army from the mountains of southern Lebanon came into sharp focus on Wednesday near a gnarled tree trunk that serves as the only remaining crossing on the Litani River, which divides most of Lebanon from the war in the south.

The wounded — Hezbollah fighters, an emergency worker said — shuffled gingerly toward the crossing, their faces exhausted and drawn. They were leaving, at least for now, the front lines of a war that has won them broad support among local people here and frustrated the Israeli military for weeks.

“I don’t know a thing,” said Yusef Rafaai, a local emergency worker who was helping the men. “I know they’re Lebanese. More than that, I don’t know.”

The river and its crossings, all makeshift since the Israelis blew up the last bridge a few days ago, have pushed even the most secretive activities into the open, offering an unusual view of this ordinarily hidden guerrilla war.

In addition to the fighters, bread, canned tuna, sardines and processed cheese — donations from Iran — were being carried across, with help from local Lebanese who support Hezbollah, to cars and trucks waiting on the other side. The Israeli bombing, which had gouged huge craters out of the area around the river, had not yet broken supply lines.

Despite Israeli bombardments, Hezbollah continues to operate. In some areas, it does so in open view of Israeli drones that whine overhead in the brilliant afternoon sky.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m., in a large, open dirt field, cut with giant craters from Israeli bombs, five ghostly fighters became ordinary wounded men. More than anything, the men did not want their photographs taken, afraid of revealing anything that might help Israel bomb them.

One covered his face with his T-shirt, in the style of a movie star avoiding paparazzi. Another, in a neck brace, put on sunglasses. Three emergency workers told journalists not to take pictures.

“No pictures,” said a fighter, hobbling on crutches with a white bandage on his left foot.

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 Frank says:

Well Mike, I'm abnormal. -- When FZ appeared on the Mike Douglas show (solo, playing guitar with recorded backup), Mike said "Your latest album is called Zoot Allures. How do you come up with such names for your records?" (or something equally banal!) Frank's succinct reply is printed above.