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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bloody Cleanup Continues at Site of Attack

QANA UN BASE, Lebanon -- With Israel's warplanes overhead and its artillery still rumbling in the distance on Friday, UN soldiers numbed by the carnage cleared up the pieces of more than 100 Lebanese refugees blown apart by Israeli shells.


Blood was smeared across the ground and the makeshift shelters where Lebanese refugees, driven from their homes by Israel's week-long offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas rocketing northern Israel, had huddled Thursday in a futile search for safety.


Lebanese security sources placed the death toll at 101 Lebanese refugees, with an estimated 110 more wounded. Four UN soldiers at the base, headquarters for the Fijian detachment of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, intended to provide security in southern Lebanon, were also wounded.


A lone Lebanese family, with their eldest son in hospital, remained in the compound Friday. Other survivors among the 500 refugees who had sheltered there Thursday had fled elsewhere.


"We saw dead people, we could not count," said a Fijian corporal who exhibited more shock than anger. "I did not carry any complete bodies -- I carried only pieces."


A stench of fire and blood permeated the base. The ground was pockmarked from shrapnel, and trees had been slashed by flying metal.


Israel said the shelling, in reprisal for what UNIFIL said were Katyusha rockets fired by guerrillas from a point hundreds of meters from the base, had hit the refugees by accident.


"Really I can't judge," Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri said in Beirut of Israel's explanation, "but it is very difficult for anyone to believe ... that it was not done specifically to attack the refugees."


In the village of Qana outside the base, home to some 4,000 people before the Israeli offensive, only about 25 people could be found Friday. A mass funeral in the village for victims of the shelling was planned for Saturday.


"Yesterday I survived this massacre," said 60-year-old Fawzieh Assaghir, standing next to her husband. "I was in the base but I survived.


"There is no difference between the base and my home, so I returned to my home," she said. "I am here to die in my home."