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Lebanese Rescuer 'Green Helmet' Injured

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By KATHY GANNON
The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 15, 2006; 6:47 PM

TYRE, Lebanon -- A civil defense worker who has drawn controversy for holding up the bodies of children killed in Lebanon said Tuesday he was lightly injured fighting a weekend fire sparked by an Israeli bomb.

Salam Daher, dubbed the Green Helmet for the color of his civil defense headgear, said he was hit by debris Sunday when a bomb or missile fell on a building while he was helping to battle a fire at a gas station in the port city of Tyre.

"I fell over when the bomb hit, and I got some scratches from debris that flew up on my face," he said.

The 20-year veteran civil defense worker said he shows dead children to photographers to make clear that Israeli airstrikes killed young Lebanese during the monthlong conflict. Some Internet bloggers have accused him of setting up photos and of treating the dead insensitively.

In one photograph, taken after an Israeli airstrike hit a building in the village of Qana, Daher held a dead infant over his head. The boy's blue pacifier was pinned to his nightshirt.

"I did hold the baby up, but I was saying 'look at who the Israelis are killing. They are children,'" Daher said. "These are not fighters. They have no guns. They are children, civilians they are killing.' "

He said he had no regrets and he made no apologies. "I wanted people to see who was dying. They said they were killing fighters. They killed children."

After the photograph taken at the July 30 Qana strike, which killed 29 people, Daher has found himself under attack, accused of being a propagandist for Hezbollah guerrillas.

One Web site posted video purporting to show Daher arranging to have the body of a child taken off an ambulance and displayed for photographers.

Daher has lived in Tyre since 1996, and was among rescue workers who helped the wounded and removed the dead after an Israeli missile slammed into a U.N. compound in 1996, killing 106 people. At that time, he was photographed holding a mutilated baby.

Daher, now 39, said he doesn't care what was said about him.

"I do my job, and I take many risks for my job, to help people. This is what I do," he said. "When I am rescuing people or taking dead bodies out I try not to think with my heart because then it is very hard for me. But sometimes it is too much, when I see many people or many children.

"I tell you there are many faces that will always be in my mind," Daher said.


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© 2006 The Associated Press

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