‘My wife thinks I will come home in a box’ – and three days later Gaza bomb disposal expert was dead

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/13/-sp-gaza-bomb-disposal-expert-bomb-dead

Rahed Taysir al-Hom was buried in the sandy soil of the cemetery of Jabaliya, the rough Gaza neighbourhood where he had grown up, at 1pm on the third day of the ceasefire.

His funeral was quick, attended by a hundred or so mourners, and accompanied by a short sermon from a white-turbaned cleric, a sobbing father and some shots fired from a Kalashnikov by a skinny teenager.

Two breeze blocks and a ripped piece of cardboard with his name scrawled on it now mark the grave of a personable man with an easy smile, hollow eyes and a quiet intensity that was entirely understandable given his job.

The 43-year-old father of seven lies next to his brother, a Hamas fighter killed in an Israeli air strike two weeks ago. But the Hom who died on Wednesday was not a warrior. He was head of the sole bomb disposal unit of Gaza’s northern governorate and his job was to protect several hundred thousand people from the unexploded ordnance that now litters the streets, fields and rubble of many homes.