Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meet Real Heroes

flashback - 8/2006 - Israel Asks US to ‘Quickly’ Send More Cluster Bombs

flashback - 9/2006 - IDF commander: We fired more than a million cluster bombs in Lebanon

flashback - 6/2007 - Cluster bomb kills one in southern Lebanon

"During the 34-day conflict last summer, Israel is believed to have dropped more than a million cluster bombs in southern Lebanon, around 40 of them remain littered around unexploded, which poses great danger to the lives of Lebanese civilians, especially children."

flashback - 1/2008 - Israel Refuses to give locations of cluster bombs it dropped in Lebanon to UN de-miners

'I feel like I've saved a life': the women clearing Lebanon of cluster bombs

"Only up close does it become clear that some of the bulky figures in armoured vests scouring the fields of southern Lebanon for unexploded cluster bombs are wearing hijabs under their protective helmets.

Once local teachers, nurses and housewives, this group of women are now fully trained to search for mines and make up the only all-female clearance team in Lebanon, combing the undergrowth inch by inch for the remnants of one of the most indiscriminate weapons of modern warfare.

Leading the women in the field is Lamis Zein, a 33-year-old divorced mother of two and the team's supervisor. She was one of the first recruits for the team, which was set up by the de-mining NGO Norwegian People's Aid (NPA).

"When I heard they were recruiting I applied straight away," said Zein. "At the beginning men were surprised to see us in the field, wearing the same protective equipment as men, doing demolitions of bombs like men. But we work together well as a team of women. We share things that we wouldn't with male colleagues. We are good at what we do and we are showing that women can do any kind of job."

Their painstaking task became necessary five years ago this week, after Israel rained cluster munitions on southern Lebanon to a degree the UN condemned as a "flagrant violation of international law".

"Cluster bombs burst open in mid-air and release bomblets that are supposed to detonate on impact, but many of the ones fired on Lebanon did not explode, lying on the ground instead like landmines with the potential to blow up at any time. The women's team works in tandem with other teams of searchers, all co-ordinated by the Lebanese army, to clear up the unexploded ordnance that still litters the countryside."


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