(LEBANON) Wafaa El-Khatib with the portrait of her eldest son, thirteen years old Hadi Hattab, who was killed when he stepped on a cluster submunition when the family emerged from their house on the first day of the ceasefire after having hidden for the 33 days that the war lasted. In the same blast, one of Hadi’s uncles, Moussal Hattab, was also killed. (Photo: John Rodsted/Norwegian People's Aid)
In the town Habboush in Southern Lebanon, we meet Wafaa El-Khatib, who tells us the story of how she lost her eldest son on the day when the war was finally over:
-My son’s name is Hadi Hattab. He was 13 years old. The whole family had been sheltering in a room in the basement of our house from the bombing for 33 days. We knew it was bad outside and we heard that many bombs were destroying houses and killing people in the area. We heard the bombs hitting and were very scarred. The ceasefire came on the 14th of August at 0800 in the morning. My son went outside with his uncles and cousins at 0900 to see what had happened. Just outside our front door on Al-Sahel Street he walked on a small thing. It exploded. His leg was badly injured and so was his stomach. I ran to him and held him. ‘I am here mama, I am here,’ he said. I knew he was going to die and he did soon after.”
Hadi had stepped on a cluster submunition that had been fired into their suburb in the dying hours of the war. His right leg was mangled and he had major abdominal injuries. Also around him lay three uncles, one aunt, and one cousin, all injured by the same blast. The family bundled all six up as best they could and made their way to a hospital, but Hadi died.
Wafaa is inconsolable. The cherished son she had brought into this world is gone, the victim of a random act of aggression on a civilian target. The family’s pain was not to stop there as one of Hadi’s uncles, Moussal Hattab, died of his wounds two days later.
On showing Wafaa cluster bomb identification photographs, she and her neighbours identified the submunitions that had been brought down on their town as most likely M42s.
-These bombs were not in front of our house the night before the accident. They were fired just before the ceasefire time. My son is gone. What will I do without my son, asks Wafaa.