A 9-year-old and a 16-year-old were killed in an air strike on the second day of Operation Pillar of Defense. Beit Hanun, 15 Nov. 2012.

Published: 
20 Nov 2012

According to testimonies gathered by B’Tselem, on Thursday, 15 November 2012, at about 10 pm, an Israeli military air strike took place in an urban area in the al-Istiqamah neighborhood of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. B’Tselem does not know the objective of the strike. A large crater was created at the point of impact and nearby houses were extensively damaged. Two boys, a 9-year-old and a 16-year-old, who lived in two of the buildings that were damaged, were killed. They sustained fatal injuries from shrapnel as they lay asleep in their homes. The fathers of the two dead boys described the incident to B’Tselem by telephone.

Ahmad Bassiuni, a father of six, described to B’Tselem the circumstances of the killing of his son Fares, aged 9:

“It was just after 10 pm and we were at home. The family was asleep and I was watching the news on television. Suddenly I heard a huge explosion. The electricity went out and the house shook. Objects went flying and a window in the room where I was sitting fell on me. The entire house filled with dust and smoke. I took a flashlight and went to check on the children in their rooms. The boys were sleeping in one room and the girls in another. I went into the boys’ room: it was a wreck. The bomb had torn a huge hole in a wall of the room.

I heard my older son Nader, 14 years old, moaning. He was crying: ‘Dad, help! Dad, help! I can’t feel my legs.’ He asked me to see if his brother Fares, 9 years old, was all right.

Then I saw Fares. He was doubled over, with his head next to his feet. His head was badly injured and its top was actually open. I saw a part of his skull was that was broken. Some of his brain had spilled out. Fares wasn't moving and was clearly dead. I was in shock. I went crazy and started shouting through the window to the people outside, begging them to get an ambulance. I called the police number 100 myself and asked them to send an ambulance.

My brothers live next door. I started shouting to them, calling for help. Within a few minutes they got to my house. They helped me carry Fares. We took him out of the house and into the ambulance. In all the anxiety and confusion, we forgot that Nader was also lying injured in the bedroom. Only when we put Fares into the ambulance did we realize that Nader was missing. When we went back into the house to get Nader, I saw that he had already started crawling out of the room. His leg was bleeding profusely and he had another wound near his right eye. We immediately got him to another ambulance. There were other dead and injured from the bombing and many ambulances arrived to evacuate them. I discovered that the bomb that had killed my son had also killed 'Udai, my neighbors’ son.

My brothers live next door. I started shouting to them, calling for help. Within a few minutes they got to my house. They helped me carry Fares. We took him out of the house and into the ambulance. In all the anxiety and confusion, we forgot that Nader was also lying injured in the bedroom. Only when we put Fares into the ambulance did we realize that Nader was missing. When we went back into the house to get Nader, I saw that he had already started crawling out of the room. His leg was bleeding profusely and he had another wound near his right eye. We immediately got him to another ambulance. There were other dead and injured from the bombing and many ambulances arrived to evacuate them. I discovered that the bomb that had killed my son had also killed 'Udai, my neighbors’ son.

After I made sure that the other members of my family were in my brothers’ houses, I went to the hospital in Beit Lahiya. My son Nader’s condition was serious and he was taken to an operating room.

After I made sure that the other members of my family were in my brothers’ houses, I went to the hospital in Beit Lahiya. My son Nader’s condition was serious and he was taken to an operating room.

Nader is still in hospital. His condition is stable.

At the moment, we are living with relatives in Beit Hanun. About 30 of us are crowded together in their flat, which is approximately 150 square meters. We have nowhere to go. Only God can help us to keep going in this indescribably difficult situation.”

A neighbor of the Bassiuni family, Jamal Nasser, a father of five, described the incident which also claimed the life his 16-year-old son 'Udai. He said that his entire family was asleep when a huge explosion shook the house:

“Shrapnel flew into the house and some of the walls collapsed. The house was full of dust and smoke. The explosion caused the electricity to go out, and the house was dark. My children began screaming. I could feel that my head and left hand had been injured. 'Udai, my 16-year–old son who had been sleeping beside me, was still lying on the floor. He wasn't moving. I touched his body and found it hot and wet. I turned on a flashlight and looked at him. I realized that he was badly injured. There was a lot of blood underneath him. I panicked and didn’t know what to do. I picked him up and went out to the street, hoping to find someone who could help. I saw that my wife, Salwa, had already gone down to the street and was shouting for help. The area around the house was devastated. I saw there was a fire in the neighborhood mosque. There was a crater about ten meters deep where the bomb had landed, and I saw many damaged houses and burnt trees.

About ten minutes later, an ambulance arrived and many people injured in the bombing began pouring in. The medics examined 'Udai and told me that he was dead. I put my son Tareq, 18, into the ambulance. He had injuries to his arms and legs. He was taken to the hospital.

Since the incident, I have not returned to my home. People who have seen the house told me that it was almost entirely wrecked.

Now we are all at my aunt’s house, about 40 people. It’s very crowded and almost impossible to leave the house because of the bombings.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 22 civilians ¬– including 14 children and three women – were injured in this incident. B’Tselem will continue investigating the circumstances of the incident.

* Testimonies taken by Iyad Hadad, by telephone.