Girl 'raised from dead' after Israeli air strike (Lebanon)
BAZURIYE: One year ago, Dalia Hussein was just an ordinary little girl in southern Lebanon. She worked hard at school and showed a particular talent for maths. But then Israel bombed her home and her family feared the worst - until a miraculous stroke of luck saw her "raised" from the dead
Now seven years old, she is back home for the first time in 10 months, still severely handicapped despite extensive treatment at a hospital in Italy.
On August 8, 2006, Dalia and her family were hit by an Israeli air strike on the village of Ghaziyeh, north of Tyre, where they had sought refuge from Israel's destructive campaign.
"It was one o'clock. Dalia had gone with her father, her brother and her sister to buy some yoghurt for lunch from a shop in the village," recalls her mother, Alia Deeb.
"Just when they got back home, they were cut down by an Israeli shell. I saw my husband and my son cry out, their faces all bloodied. Dalia didn't move. Everybody thought she had been killed outright." Her father and brother escaped serious injury, but Dalia was taken to the morgue in the hospital in nearby Sidon. It was there that press photographer Mahmud Zayat discovered that she was in fact still alive.
"She was laid out on a stretcher, the cover rustled and I saw her chest rising and falling. She was breathing," he remembers. "I took a photo and called the doctors, to let them know Dalia was alive."
Dalia had sustained severe head injuries, and doctors told her mother her chances of survival were one in a hundred.
But they persevered, and on September 28 she was evacuated by the Italian Red Cross, which paid for the six operations she underwent in the town of Bergamo, Italy, before returning to her home village of Bazuriye.
She cannot walk or talk, and doctors have warned her parents she has severe and probably incurable brain damage. Dalia is still conscious, though, and can recognize her parents, sister and brother, twins now aged 13.
Israel's 34-day bombardment claimed the lives of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, a third of them children, as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. It destroyed over 25,000 homes and 50,000 other buildings, notably in the country's south, before ending with a UN-brokered cease-fire on August 14.
Up to a million cluster bomblets were also scattered by Israel over South Lebanon during the war, most in the last days of the conflict, the UN said.
Children often mistake these for toys, which has prompted NGOs and the government to mount a public awareness campaign to warn kids about their danger.
The cluster munitions, which can spread bomblets over a wide area, frequently do not explode on impact but can do so later at the slightest touch, making them as lethal as anti-personnel landmines.
Since the conflict ended, unexploded ordnance has killed at least 28 people and wounded more than 177 in Lebanon, according to the UN mine disposal agency.
A photo of Dalia from before the shelling shows a little girl with long silken hair and wide black eyes. It hangs on the wall next to a picture of Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who hails from the same village.
Every day, her father Abdullah Hussein takes her to a clinic in neighboring Tyre for physical therapy sessions.
The family is not well-off enough to afford hospital treatment in the capital Beirut, and Dalia's mother has already started to sell her jewellery to fund her care.
Abdullah, a 45-year-old taxi driver, says the family's hope is that Dalia may one day walk and talk again. "She was dead, she came back to life. That's a miracle in itself," he says. - AFP
Von: Marwan Naaman, www.dailystar.com.lb