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Personal Stories from the Gaza Strip…

May 13, 2009

Testimony collected from Sa’ed, resident of Gaza City:

 “The tanks are surrounding the city and are shooting inside all the time. We are 150 people in one four-room apartment. People keep looking at their children and hugging them. My daughter, 3 years old, keeps asking, when will the plane come. We are all longing for death. Donkeys and dogs in Israel have a better life than ours. There is nothing here.

 In Gaza city there is no electricity, here we have electricity for 6 hours a day. The water is very dirty but we have no choice so we drink it. We haven’t seen the international organizations recently. Mothers go out into the streets to look for their children, one mother saw the head of her son disconnected from its body. I want my kids and the children in Sderot to go to school.

 Your media doesn’t show you the truth – we are being shot at from every direction, also from the sea now. We are strangling here, let them just open the crossings, they don’t let us live. I tell you – now all of Gaza is Hamas? One and a half million people. Khaled Meshal wants to be a leader – he kills a nation, Ehud Barak wants to be a leader – he kills a nation. It’s worse than 1948.”[1]

Ashraf Kdeih, Khan Younis, near the Israel-Gaza border:

“We get electricity for only four hours a day, once a week there is water in the taps so we save as much as we can in plastic bottles.  A 12 kg. container of cooking gas that used to cost us 35 shekels (about 7 euro) is now 150 shekels (about 50 euro), and it is extremely difficult to find containers.  My wife and I are both at home but we send our children to Khan Younis because it is safer there.  The children are terrified but we manage to keep in touch on a daily basis.

All day long we hear the bombing and it is impossible to leave the house.  Yesterday I got a phone call from an automatic machine that said, in Arabic, that we need to leave the house and move to the city.  We have no where to go to and I don’t want to evacuate, so as of now we are imprisoned in our own house.”[2] 

Antar, Beit Lahiya:

“We are 16 people in the house, 12 of them are children and a baby that was born this week.  We all live in one room and we go out only when we have to go to the toilets or to shower.  Two hours a day there is electricity and during these two hours some one runs to prepare bread or to cook in the kitchen. The stores in the neighborhood are closed and it is too dangerous to go out and look for products.

Yesterday, one of our family members, who also lives in the neighborhood, went out for food and was killed. All the windows in the house are broken so it is cold at night and we do not have enough blankets.  We hear the bombing from all directions, tanks, jeeps, planes- it is terrifying.”[3]     

Testimony: Israeli army bombs home in Gaza City, killing 21 members of a single family, Jan. ’09

Nafez a-Daiyah, policeman

“Our family’s house was in the center of Gaza City, next to the Hassan al-Bana mosque. It had four floors, and more than thirty of us lived in it. My brother ‘Amer and my four married sisters live elsewhere.

 Three days ago, the army called the house of our neighbors, the a-Shatiwi family, and told them that it intended to bomb the house. Their house is only fifteen meters from ours, and only one house stands between us. The a-Shatiwi family left the house after receiving the notice.

 My wife, children, and I went to stay with my wife’s parents. The distance from their house to our house is about 500 meters. Yesterday morning, after prayers, I heard two explosions from the area of our house. The local radio reported that the army blew up “the house of the a-Daiyah family,” in the center of Gaza City. I was at our house in five minutes.

 I was shocked. The house was totally destroyed, with only a few pillars remaining. There were body parts everywhere. I started shouting the names of my family, hoping that somebody would answer. Neighbors came to help look for survivors. I only found my brother Muhammad. He was crying and screaming. He told me that the house had been bombed while he was on his way home from prayers, right when he was about to enter. We found ‘Amer. He was lightly wounded from shrapnel and was in shock. Then we found my brothers Rida and Radwan, who were in very bad condition. We managed to take them to a-Shifa’a Hospital. They’re both in intensive care, and Radwan is brain dead.

 From six in the morning until evening prayers, we kept on looking for body parts. This morning, we continued our search until noon. The neighbors helped us, using their two tractors. Rescue forces didn’t come because they were busy in other places that had been bombed.

 The members of my family who were killed in the bombing are my father, Fayiz, 60, my mother, Kawkab, 55, my sisters Raghdah, 30, and Sabrin, 26, both single. My brother Muhammad’s wife, Tazal Isma’il, 26, who was nine months pregnant, and they had four children, Amani, 7, Qamar, 5, Arij, 3, and Yusef, 2. My brother Iyad, 35, his wife Rawdah, 28, and their children ‘Ali, 10, Khitam, 9, Alaa, 8, Duha, 6, Sharaf a-Din, 5, and Muhammad, 1. My brother Ramez, 25, his wife Wafaa, 20, and their children, Baraa, 3, and Salsabil, 4  months.”[4]

 Nafez Fayez a-Daiyah, 38, married with seven children, is a policeman and a resident of Gaza City. His testimony was given to Iyad Hadad by telephone on 7 Jan. ’09.

 Testimony: 3 children killed by missile when playing in the street, Khan Yunis, Jan. ’09

Muhammad al-Astal, clerk

“Last Friday [2 January], at 2:15 P.M., I was standing next to al-‘Amda Restaurant, which is about eighty meters from my house. Four men from the neighborhood were standing opposite me. It was quiet. The only sound was from an unmanned Israeli observation plane that we call “a-Zananeh.”

 Four children of my cousins were playing outside. They were having fun with a street dog, chasing after it. According to Islam, dogs are impure, and if you touch them you have to wash your hands before eating or praying. I shouted at them that I wouldn’t let them eat with me if they played with the dog.

 Three other children joined in the chase: two sons of my sister, Muhammad Iyad al-Astal, 11, and ‘Abed Rabbo Iyad al-Astal, 9, and their cousin, ‘Abd a-Satar Walid al-Astl, 9. I shouted at them too not to touch the dog. They were no more than thirty meters from me.

 Suddenly, I heard a loud explosion and saw white smoke and lots of dust in the air. Gradually they cleared a bit and I was totally confused. At first, I didn’t see the children, but a few seconds later I got over the shock and began to call to them. I ran toward where they had been and couldn’t believe what I saw. The three children were lying on the ground, next to each other, not moving. The bomb had been aimed right at them.

 Muhammad and ‘Abed were lying face down, about a meter from each other. ‘Abd a-Satar was about three meters from them. I checked ‘Abed, all the time calling him by his nickname, “’Abud, ‘Abud.” I turned him onto his back, but he didn’t move. I saw he had wounds and burns on the front of his head, above his left eye and under his left ear. His left leg was torn off, with only its skin connected to his body. He didn’t move, didn’t breathe, and had no pulse. I realized he was already dead.

 I went over to Muhammad and turned him onto his back. He had burns and shrapnel wounds on four or five places on his face, but they seemed like light wounds. I felt his chest to check his breathing and pulse. I felt a weak pulse and thought he was dying. Then I looked toward ‘Abd a-Satar and saw he had no head. It was a shocking sight, and I began to cry and shout,”People, the world – an ambulance! For the love of Allah, get an ambulance!” I saw some of the neighbors standing by their houses but they were afraid to come over because of the awful sight.
Two neighbors came to help me and a third man, whom I know, approached. I called to them: “Come, Abu Ayman, the children are dying, come.” He was shocked by the horrible sight, began to cry and turned back.

 A few minutes later, a civilian car passed. I didn’t know the driver. He stopped and we picked up the victims. We put ‘Abed and ‘Abd a-Satar’s bodies in the trunk, and Muhammad in the front seat, because I thought he was still alive. We drove to ‘Abd a-Nasser Hospital, which is very close, about seven kilometers away, and got there in a few minutes. We took Muhammad out first, hoping we could save him, but we were told he was already dead.
It was only at the hospital that I discovered that shrapnel had hit me in the left shoulder, wounding my slightly. I was discharged from the hospital the same day.”[5]

 Muhammad Hassan Musa al-Astal, 27, is a clerk and a resident of al-Qarareh in Khan Yunis district. His testimony was given to Iyad Haddad by telephone on 5 Jan. ’09.

 Testimony: Five girls in one family killed when the army bombs a mosque near their home in Jabalya Refugee Camp, 27 December 2008

Samira Bau’lusha, mother of nine

“On Monday [29 December], around 11:50 P.M., I woke up and heard my husband calling to me: “Samira, Samira, they shelled the mosque, get up and see, and recite the Shahada (Prayer of the dying).”  It was dark, and I couldn’t see anything. I recited the Shahada. I felt something heavy choking me and pressing on my body. I was buried under a concrete clock, stones, and sand, and barely managed to move. I succeeded in freeing my hand and pushed aside the things that had fallen on me. I got up and went to look for my children.

 I found Bar’a, my two-week-old daughter. She was alive, even though her bed was buried under the ruins. I saw my husband getting out of the ruins, and I handed Bar’a to him.

 I then went to look for my son Muhammad, who was sleeping next to me. At first, I didn’t see him because of the rubble, but I found him alive under the ruins. I managed to free him, and I gave him to one of the people who came to help clear away the rubble.

 In the meantime, I continued to look for my daughters. Their bedroom was covered with blocks of concrete and stones and sand. Other people helped me look for them. I was very weak because I had been injured in the head, and I was taken to Kamal ’Adwan Hospital.
At the hospital, I learned that five of my daughters – Tahrir, Ikram, Samar, Dunia, and Juhar – had been killed, and three were wounded. Muhammad was injured all over his body, mostly in the face.

 Israel bombed the mosque next to our house without warning and without thinking about the people who live next to it. Lots of houses in the area were damaged in the blast.”[6]

 Samira Tawfiq Sa’id Bau’lusha, 36, married with nine children, is a homemaker and a resident of Jabalya Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. Her testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah by telephone on 30 December 2008.

 Testimony: Ambulance and medical staff fired at while evacuating wounded people

Khaled Abu Sa’ada, ambulance driver

“I have worked as an ambulance driver at the Al-Awda hospital since 1977.

Today, 4.1.09, at 10:47 A.M., we were notified about wounded people near the Beit Lahiya square. I quickly drove there with ‘Arafa Hani ‘Abd a-Daim and ‘Alaa Osama Sirhan. We got there in two minutes.

There were four wounded people lying on the ground. ‘Alaa and ‘Arafa brought one of them to the ambulance and then went back to get another one. As they were approaching the ambulance with the second one, we were fired at. I think it was a tank shell, because I didn’t see any planes in the sky. ‘Alaa, ‘Arafa and the man they were carrying were hit. I received a small piece of shrapnel to the head. The wounded man died on the spot. A help team arrived on the scene and took all the wounded people to hospital.

‘Arafa went through surgery at the al-Awda hospital and died of his injuries. ‘Alaa was taken to a-Shifa’a hospital and I was told that his leg might be amputated. I don’t know what happened to the others who were injured.

The ambulance was hit too and can’t be used . Now we have only one ambulance at al-Awda hospital.”[7]

Khaled Yusef Ahmad Abu Sa’ada, 43, is an ambulance driver at the Al-Awda hospital, Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. His testimony was given by phone to ‘Atef Abu-Rub on 4 January 2009.

 

   [1] “Testimonies from Gaza.” 7 January 2009. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. 25 January 2009. http://www.phr.org.il/phr/article.asp?articleid=671&catid=55&pcat=-1&lang=ENG

 [2] “Testimonies from Gaza.” 7 January 2009. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. 25 January 2009. http://www.phr.org.il/phr/article.asp?articleid=671&catid=55&pcat=-1&lang=ENG

 [3] “Testimonies from Gaza.” 7 January 2009. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. 25 January 2009. http://www.phr.org.il/phr/article.asp?articleid=671&catid=55&pcat=-1&lang=ENG

 [4] “Testimonies.” 9 January 2009. B’Tselem. 25 January 2009. http://www.btselem.org/english/testimonies/index.asp?TF=30&image.x=40&image.y=13

 [5] “Testimonies.” 9 January 2009. B’Tselem. 25 January 2009. http://www.btselem.org/english/testimonies/index.asp?TF=30&image.x=40&image.y=13

 [6] “Testimonies.” 9 January 2009. B’Tselem. 25 January 2009. http://www.btselem.org/english/testimonies/index.asp?TF=30&image.x=40&image.y=13

 [7] “Testimonies.” 9 January 2009. B’Tselem. 25 January 2009. http://www.btselem.org/english/testimonies/index.asp?TF=30&image.x=40&image.y=13

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