(LEBANON) Khalil Kassem Tirkiyyeh is a man who has lost his son, 20 year old Ali Tirkiyyeh. The scenario was the same as for so many people in Southern Lebanon, Ali survived the war but couldn’t survive the peace. He was killed by a cluster submunition. (Photo: John Rodsted/Norwegian People's Aid)
-The day after the ceasefire (Tuesday August 15 2006) my son Ali went to see his uncle in Zawtar Al-Gharbiyyeh to see how they were and if they needed help. He and his cousins were looking at the damage to the house from strikes with cluster munitions. There were many unexploded small bombs lying around. They realized that these were dangerous and stepped carefully. Ali reached up to pick some grapes from the vine that grew over a trellis in front of the house, and a small bomb dropped out of the vine and landed on his head and exploded. He died instantly, says Khalil.
While we talk to Ali’s father, the uncle comes running and says he has just found more cluster submunitions in the field behind the house. He is right, submunitions of the black, battery-sized type M42 and M46 litter the field. As we look around, we see olive groves, houses and other fields. All has to be heavily saturated with unexploded submunitions. How many more lives are to be lost before this mess is cleared up?
In addition to the human suffering and loss experienced by people like Ali’s father, the cluster submunition contamination is bound to have an economic impact. The cease fire in Lebanon came during the harvest season for many foods, including olives. Many crops will rot on the trees for fear of disturbing cluster submunitions that may be hooked in the branches or hidden on or in the ground.