Twenty-five days after the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, tragedy is still affecting the lives of Lebanese civilians. In a small village in southern Lebanon, Zebqine, families are starting to return home to assess the damage and collect any memories they can salvage. Two brothers, Hussein, 15 and Ali, 13 had returned home many times in the past few days to sift through the rubble that was once their home, but on Wednesday, September 6, 2006, while they were going through their home looking for their school books they were shocked by a sudden flash of a bluish-yellow light. An unexploded bomb that had landed in their home had been detonated.
At first Hussein did not know what happened, as there was no noise from the bomb. Hussein had though that Ali had playfully thrown something at him so he reached back to pull it off, then Ali yelled at him to stop. Hussein did not realize that he was actually pulling his skin off the back of his neck and face.
Like most residents in the south, they had been warned about going into their fields and had been shown pictures of the various types of cluster bombs that were dropped by Israel in the last few days of the war. But as their older sister Hiba shared, you would never expect to find a bomb in your own house.
Members of the humanitarian organization Islamic Relief visited the boys and their family in a hospital in Tyre (Sour) right after Hussein was coming out of surgery the next day. The boys were in good spirits considering their situation and pain they were in. They were lucky considering what could have happened if they had come across the numerous cluster bombs littering Lebanon. Hussein and Ali suffered second degree burns. Thankfully, they will physically recover and heal with time, but the emotional scars will linger permanently.
For Hussein and Ali, one of the hardest things for them and their family is losing their home along with all the memories, pictures, and belongings they have had since childhood. This is unfortunately a common theme in this village where 85% of the townâ€™s homes have been completely destroyed and where 40 homes were destroyed just 5 minutes before the ceasefire.
As true in any war-torn area, even though the official conflict is over there are still a lot of lingering remnants that are greatly affecting the population. There is still a lot of work to be done. The people of Lebanon cannot be forgotten.
(Author just returned from a week long needs assessment trip to Lebanon with Islamic Relief.)