Following the 2014 conflict in Gaza, countless unexploded bombs and other ordnance (UXO) lay scattered across neighborhoods and inside damaged buildings. Despite clearance efforts, many weapons still pollute populated areas and pose a serious threat to civilians, many of whom do not realize that the bombs can still explode. To prevent injuries and death, Handicap International teams travel throughout Gaza to educate residents—like Hamza’s Al-Sisawi family—about what to do when they find potentially dangerous objects in their midst.
Hamza explains what happened during the conflict: “We were living in our house but when the shelling got bad we escaped to a hospital. During a ceasefire, we returned to check the situation at home and collect some important papers. But then the bombing started again and we went to take shelter at a friend’s house.”
“When we got back to our home, we found the whole building was badly damaged. Everything was destroyed. When my mother saw the state of the house she fell into shock and became unresponsive. She was taken to hospital for two days where they gave her psychological support—thankfully she recovered.”
“After two days there was another ceasefire. My younger brother went back home and found a lot of UXO inside the house. He gathered them up and put them inside the bathroom. When my father and I returned home, I saw all of the UXO that my brother had collected and I worried that it might explode. But my father told me, ‘it’s OK, these things are safe.’”
Thankfully, one of Handicap International’s education teams came into contact with the family before any accidents occurred. “We met Hamza in a focus group and told him about UXO and how dangerous it is,” says Mohammed Saleh, a Handicap International risk education team leader. “We also provided him with a leaflet about the risks. He took it to his mother and father and explained the dangers.”
“My father took this very seriously and explained to my brother how dangerous it was to keep these items inside the house,” says Hamza. “He showed him more pictures on the internet of bombs and what they can do to people. After that, we called the police to come and clear the explosives in our house.”