Muhammad Abu Harb describes the bombing the killed his sister, Rawida

I live with my wife and two children – a three-year-old boy and nine-month-old baby – in a single house with my mother and my brothers and sisters and their families, in the agricultural area of a-Zawaydah in Deir al-Balah. Our house is made mostly of stone and cinderblocks, but the ceiling is asbestos supported by iron rods.

On Sunday, 13 July 2014, we got up very early to eat suhoor, which is the last meal before Ramadan fasting begins for the day. Then my wife, children and I went back to sleep in our room and my mother and sister, Rawida, went to sleep in another room. The rest of the family was in the living room. It was quiet. The bombings hadn't reached our area and we couldn't hear any airplanes close by.

Bombed and destroyed houses, Gaza, July 19 2014. Photo by: Suhaib Salem, Reuters

Bombed and destroyed houses, Gaza, 19 July 2014. Photo by: Suhaib Salem, Reuters

At around 5:30 A.M., I was woken by two loud explosions. The whole house shook and some walls collapsed. Everyone was hysterical. Neighbors came over and we started looking for everyone in the rubble. It was clear from the beginning that the women's room was the most badly damaged. The room was dark and full of smoke. We found my sister, Rawida. She was badly wounded from big pieces of shrapnel, but she was still alive. We got her out from under the rubble. One of the rods that support the roof was stuck in her hip. We pulled it out of her body. We carried her out to the street. Then we found my mother. She was lying in a corner of the room covered in blood and crying in pain. She was having difficulty breathing, but her injuries looked less dangerous. Another of my sisters, Hanan, was badly hurt in her abdomen and chest. She was still breathing. My brother, Marwan, was also hurt. The neighbors helped us carry them outside.

Shuhadaa al-Aqsa Hospital is less than two kilometers away, but it took the ambulance ten minutes to reach us. I don't know why it took so long. My mother, brother and sisters were taken to hospital.

Soon after we got to the hospital, the doctors told us that Rawida had died. Hanan had surgery to remove her spleen and her life is still in danger. My mother has fractured ribs and Marwan's left hand is broken. They're all still in hospital.

The missile landed in an open space close to our home, about ten meters from the room my mother and Rawida were in. The room was heavily damaged.

I still don't know why our home was bombed. The area that was bombed is farmland. I don't understand why farmland would be bombed. We were given no warning. Now we're three families left without a roof over our heads. Where will we go? What will we do?

Muhammad Ahmad Hussein Abu Harb, 32, a married father of two, is a laborer and resident of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. He gave his testimony by phone to Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem's field researcher in Ramallah, on 13 July 2014.

Two children who live next door were injured in the bombing: Yamen al-Hmeidi, 4, and his brother Yazan, 7. Yamen was severely injured and died of his wounds in hospital five days later, on 18 July 2014. 

Concerning testimonies about the "Protective Edge" campaign:

With the current military campaign ongoing, B’Tselem is taking testimony from Gaza residents, mainly by telephone. B’Tselem verifies, to the best of its ability, the reliability and precision of the information reported; nevertheless, in these circumstances, reports may be incomplete or contain errors. Given the urgency of informing the public about events in Gaza, B’Tselem has decided to publish the information now available. When the military campaign ends, B’Tselem will supplement these reports as needed.