Testimony: Eight young men killed when army bombs truck of metal workshop in Gaza City, Dec. '08

Ahmad Samur, metal- workshop owner

Ahmad Samur

I have a metal workshop on Salah a-Din Street, near Zamu Square, nor far from the Palestinian Red Crescent.

On Monday [29 December] my daughter Hibah, who is 22, told me that she heard on the radio that a metal workshop had been bombed in the area of my shop. I immediately called my sons to go with me and see what happened to the workshop, which is my only source of income. Relatives and neighborhoods joined us, and we all went there is our Mercedes truck. My son 'Alaa drove.

I was shocked what I saw when we got to the shop. Three meters from the shop there is a house that belongs to ‘Abd al-Ghani Hamdan. The house was completely demolished. Only a crater about ten meters deep was left on the site. The walls collapsed onto the metal shop, damaging part of it. I was afraid people would steal equipment, so I decided to remove some of the things in the shop.

The young guys among us began to remove things from the workshop: tools, welding rods, gas canisters for cooking, and all kinds of things. When the truck was full, my son ‘Imad took the things home, unloaded them, and came back with the truck to take more things. They began to load the oxygen balloons that we use at work. I remember that we had six balloons, and the young people took three of them to the truck. The place was like a beehive. All the young people I mentioned and other young people who live in the neighborhood came to help load the equipment.

I was standing on the other side of the road because it was very dusty and I suffer from shortness of breath. I watched them load the things onto the truck. ‘Imad stood on the truck and arranged the things that were brought from the workshop. Among the things were two containers of benzene that I kept in stock. Suddenly, I saw a light flash next to my truck, fire broke out, and I heard a blast. I began to run toward the blast, about thirty meters away. When I managed to approach and the smoke scattered, I saw a few bodies, one of them that of my son ‘Imad. I fainted, and when I awoke a few hours later, I was told that ‘Imad and seven other young people who were helping us had been killed. Two members of my family - Bilal and Baha Soheil Ghabayen - were very seriously injured.

I was very surprised that the Israeli army claimed that it had bombed a truck loaded with rockets. I invite any weapons expert in the world to prove this. That is a lie. My son and I had no connection to that issue. I engage in ironworks, and nothing else, in my metal workshop. I never had any ties with a political organization and I worked my whole life as a metalworker inside Israel. Since the closures began, I have worked as a metalworker in Gaza.

Ahmad 'Abdallah Muhammad Samur is a resident of Gaza City and an owner of a metal- workshop. His testimony was given to Kareem Jubran on 31 Dec. '08 over the telephone.