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Distribution of Lebanon Aid Limited by Fighting

DON GONYEA, host:

A Jordanian military plane landed today at Beirut's international airport. Onboard were medical equipment and other humanitarian supplies. The humanitarian aid is much needed in Lebanon, which has been devastated by two weeks of Israeli air bombardment.

NPR's Jackie Northam reports from Beirut.

JACKIE NORTHAM reporting:

This is the first jet to land at Beirut's international airport since Israeli bombing two weeks ago severely damaged the runways. The military aircraft was able to maneuver around the huge craters as it touched down. Two more Jordanian jets are expected to land later today. Each one is carrying medical equipment which will be used to set up field hospitals. Each jet will also carry back about 50 Lebanese civilians who have been severely wounded in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

Yesterday, Israel gave the green light for planes carrying humanitarian aid, such as food, water filtration kits and medicine to land in Beirut. It's also allowing aid to come into the capital by sea into the northern city of Tripoli and into Tyre, south of Beirut.

The aid will help many people who have been displaced or are hurt, especially around Tyre, which continues to be hit by Israeli bombs. But the aid cannot go further into south Lebanon to areas where it's desperately needed. The Israeli government still will not guarantee safe passage for any aid convoys in southern Lebanon. Israel will also not guarantee safe passage for ambulances or aid convoys going into other Hezbollah strongholds.

In part of the Beqaa Valley, or the southern suburbs of Beirut, block after block of high-rise buildings in the southern suburbs have been leveled by Israeli bombs. It's still too dangerous for civil defense workers and local Red Cross workers to thoroughly search the area for wounded or stranded residents. Red Cross officials say going in to remove the dead will have to wait until the bombing subsides.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Beirut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam
Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.