Haifa lifeguard laid to rest, a year after the war

Family protests that only now is the city ready to rebuild their home.

Mohammed Don Salum 88 (photo credit: )
Mohammed Don Salum 88
(photo credit: )
Mohammed (Don) Salum, 41, was buried in the Haifa Christian Cemetery on Thursday afternoon, a year after a Katyusha rocket struck his home in the city during the Second Lebanon War. His family charged that it took his death to propel the city to promise to rebuild his home, which had been left in a state of disrepair while he lay in Rambam Hospital's intensive care unit. Hundreds of relatives and friends joined the funeral procession, which began at the spot where the Katyusha struck the house, on Rehov Caesarea in the Arab neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas, on August 6, 2006. Ignoring his own shrapnel wounds, Salum - a lifeguard at a Haifa beach - had raced into the home to rescue his mother and sister. He was injured further when a gas canister exploded in the house during his rescue. Two other people, Lebiba Masawi, 68, and Hanna Hamam, 62, were killed in the Wadi Nisnas rocket attack. Salum, who was severely burned over most of his body, blinded and lost one leg when the rocket struck, died in Rambam on Wednesday night. Munira, Salum's sister, expressed anger that their family home had not been repaired despite repeated pleas to the municipality and the state, forcing them to rent elsewhere; it was only on Thursday that the city agreed to finance its reconstruction. "Over the past year, we didn't receive any compensation for the house that was destroyed," she said. "Now we have been left without a brother and without a home." Salum was the 159th fatality of the war, and the 40th civilian death. He is survived by his mother, sister and three brothers. AP and JTA contributed to this report.