DEPRESSING MIDEAST ROUNDUP....

DEPRESSING MIDEAST ROUNDUP. Say what you want about the Bush administration, but they sure know how to pull off a good media stunt like Condi Rice's surprise visit to Beirut, conducted via helicopter from Cyprus since Israeli airstrikes have closed Lebanon's airport. Fortunately for Rice, she managed not to be hit by any stray bombs during her trip into town. Compare that to eight-year-old Mahmoud Srour whose family decided to abide by the IDF's orders to vacate the city of Tyre and had their car blown up for their trouble. His mom seems to be more-or-less okay, but his dad and his uncle are dead. Mahmoun's "face was burned beyond recognition" and all three of his siblings are likewise hospitalized and suffering from serious burns.

That's The Washington Post's human interest tale of woe. Today's Times carries a similar story about a woman named Muntaha Shaito and her family, likewise bombed while fleeing Tyre. The IDF explained that strikes targeted "approximately 20 vehicles" that were "serving the terror organization in the launching of missiles at Israel, and were recognized fleeing from or staying at missile-launching areas." In other words, if you live near a place where Hezbollah was shooting missiles from, your house may be blown up in an effort to stop the missiles and you'll be killed if you stay put. But if you decide to flee, then your car may be blown up on the grounds that you were fleeing missile-launching areas.

In case one is inclined to wonder where the next generation of Hezbollah members and supporters is going to come from, I think you've got your candidate right here. For every dead father, mother, uncle, sister, or whatever, you're leaving behind a lot of angry people.

--Matthew Yglesias

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