The grieving women of this isolated mountain village in the harsh hills of southern Lebanon gathered at the edge of the yawning mass grave and wailed in unison in the keening that is traditional in mourning in the Arab world.
Inside an adjacent mosque, the stench of death heavy in the air, Red Cross and civil defense workers laid out the bodies of 13 young men, riddled with bullets, and wrapped them carefully in white sheets. As they carried out their grim task, the women waiting at the open grave raised the pitch of their mournful cries and beat their chests with their fists. One elderly woman, her head shrouded in black, flung herself into the pit and had to be dragged out.
Nearby, village men gathered in small knots and spoke bitterly of the Israeli Army attack yesterday, when tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters swept into the village of about 5,000 persons on a "search and interrogation" raid. It was one of four such raids carried out during the day from the Israelis' positions south of the Litani River to flush out attacking guerrillas.
"They came at 6 o'clock in the morning, when everyone was sleeping. We were totally unprepared. Before we knew what was happening, they were shooting into the village with machine guns and tanks and everyone was running," said a young Shiite Moslem man, who said he managed to escape the first wave and hide in the hills overlooking the village.
For an hour and a half, the young man said, about 15 guerrillas of the Amal movement militia battled the Israeli troops and then tried to escape on the road leading to the port city of Sidon, about seven miles to the west. However, he said, a helicopter-borne force of Israeli troops was waiting for them, and most were killed in deadly cross fire.
Humin, a poor village on the edge of a cluster of Christian villages that overlook Sidon and the Mediterranean Sea, was littered today with the wrecks of cars caught in the fire. At least five houses had been reduced to rubble by satchels of dynamite planted by the Israeli soldiers, residents said.
Villagers said the Israelis, following a pattern of similar raids conducted in southern Lebanon in the past month, used loudspeakers mounted on armored personnel carriers to broadcast a call for all men between ages 14 and 45 to report to the village school for interrogation. During the 11 hours they remained in the village, residents said, the Israeli soldiers detained about 50 young men and took them away in trucks, blindfolded and with hands tied behind their backs.
The residents said the soldiers also placed time-fuse bombs in parked cars and in several houses but said that the bombs were located and defused by Lebanese Army troops who entered the village late last night.
One young man who said he was not an Amal fighter but readily admitted that the village was a stronghold of Lebanese National Resistance guerrillas, said that the villagers had expected an Israeli raid ever since the town of Zrariyeh was attacked last week and 34 men, including Amal guerrillas, were killed.
Like others interviewed here today, the young man said that the village had become radicalized as a result of the raid and that new recruits to the guerrilla force would replace those killed or taken away to the Israelis' Ansar detention camp to the east.
"From what we have seen, we are going to fight to the death, and we are no longer afraid. The Israelis have made it clear now: the war is not a political war. The war is religious. We are sure now the Israelis are fighting not because we are from Amal and we listen to Amal leader Nabih Berri. They are fighting us because we are Moslems and they are Jews," he said.
"They will come again. We know that. And we know we can stand on our own feet. Nobody can help us. The U.N. can't help us. They are just counting how many people have been killed and how many houses have been blown up. So that is it. We don't need any help. We just want the world to know that we are going to stay in the villages and fight," said the young man, who would not identify himself.
Another youth, also watching the burial, smiled when asked how he felt as a result of the raid. "Actually, we feel happy. The killing gives us more power to fight them. We actually thank the Israelis, because they woke us up. They taught us how to be strong people," he said.
The youth vowed to exact revenge by pursuing the Israeli Army beyond its border once it withdraws from Lebanon. "They have to know that we will follow them all the way to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem . It is martyrdom or victory, because we have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose," the young man said.
Meanwhile, a United Nations peace-keeping force spokesman said that Israeli troops entered the village of Qlaile, about five miles south of Tyre, killing one resident and wounding another, in another "search and interrogation" mission today.