Testimony: Soldiers shoot and kill Gazan farmer after cease-fire is in place, Jan. '09

Dr. Wisam 'Abu Rajileh, physician

Since the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip started, we were waiting for the cease-fire. 

My father and his brothers have a five-dunam plot of land, on which they have citrus orchards, olive groves and hothouses for growing vegetables. The plot lies east of Khuza'a, about 400 meters from the border with Israel.

This morning [18 January], at around 8:00 A.M., after the Israelis announced the cease-fire, I went with my father, ‘Abd al-‘Azim Yusef Abu Rajileh, 56, my mother, M'azuzeh Jaber Abu Rajileh, 56, and my brother, Maher ‘Abd al-‘Azim Abu Rajileh, 24, to check the state of our plot. When we got there, we were shocked by the destruction. About thirty houses in the Najar neighborhood, some 200 meters from our plot, were completely destroyed. Our land was like a desert. All the trees were uprooted, the trunks were buried in sand, and the hothouses were ruined. The area looked as if it had been hit by a tsunami.

After we recovered from the shock, we started dragging the trunks of the trees out of the sand, so we could at least use the wood for heating. Lots of residents came to check the state of their plots.

There were a few Israeli army jeeps near the border with Israel, about 400 meters away from us. They watched us work. Around 10:00 A.M., for no reason at all, the soldiers began to fire at us. It happened suddenly, and we didn't know what to do. The shots made the sand fly into the air.

There was confusion and panic, and everyone began to run. I ran until I got to a cactus, about 50-60 meters from our plot. I hid behind it. The firing continued for three minutes or so and then stopped.

I looked to see where my parents and brother were. A couple of people told me that my parents had run toward Khuza'a. I went back to our plot and found Maher. He was lying on the ground, not moving at all. I picked him up and saw that the back of his clothes were full of blood. He had been killed.

I took him to the town. I didn't dare undress him to see his wound. He was buried in those clothes.

Dr. Wisam 'Abd al-'Azim Abu Rajileh, 33, married with one child, is a physician and a resident of Khuza'a, in Khan Yunis District, Gaza Strip. His testimony was given to Kareem Jubran by telephone on 18 Jan. '09.