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تحديثات من الميدان

Muhammad Abu Mu'ammar describes the bombing that killed his wife, father and brother in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, 13 July 2014

We live on farmland in the a-Salem neighborhood northeast of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. My wife, Hanadi Hamdan Abu Mu'ammar, was 24. We have two children: Hazem, 9 months old, and Musa, 4. My whole family lives on the rented ground floor of a building: my mother; my father, who was killed in the bombing; my brother Saddam, who was killed in the bombing, was 24 and was engaged to be married; my brother Hamam, 17; and my brother Shehadeh, 20, who is married but his wife lives in Germany.

On the evening of 13 July 2014, we were all eating the meal that marks the end of daily fasting together, as we do every day during Ramadan. At around 10:00 P.M., my brothers and I came back from prayers at the mosque close to our home. The family sat out on the porch, enjoying the atmosphere after breaking the fast. Despite the general sense of fear because of the war, and the fact that people are staying indoors for fear of bombing, things in the area felt normal at the time. We heard unmanned aerial vehicles in the sky, but that's nothing unusual here. It's like that all the time. We didn't think anything was going to happen.

Musa, my four-year-old, was sitting in my lap. My wife was holding Hazem, the baby. The rest of the family was sitting with us on the porch. It was just a few minutes after we got back from prayers.

Suddenly, two missiles landed on us. They came a second or two apart. I think the first one exploded in the air, about ten meters above us. The second hit the center of the porch where we were sitting. There was a huge explosion and everyone flew out of their seats. Some flew two meters away, some three meters or more. There was a big hole in the ground. Glass shattered and windows and doors broke.

A few seconds after the explosion, I collected myself and realized what had happened. I checked myself and saw I'd been hurt in the face. My jaw was bleeding. I went to check on my children and the rest of the family. Everyone was hysterical and it was a huge mess. It's hard to describe the moments after the explosion. I saw some members of my family lying on the ground. Some of them weren't moving. They had blood on their faces and clothes. The little children were crying. Everyone's faces were covered in dust and it was hard to identify them. The whole area was full of smoke.

I wasn't badly hurt and neither were my brothers Shehadeh and Hamam. We started checking who was hurt, alive or dead. My father was in a bad state. It looked like he wasn’t breathing. My brother Saddam was still breathing but he was in a bad state, too. My wife Hanadi was also badly injured. Their bodies were full of wounds and burns. They were covered in dust. We started shouting to the neighbors to come and help. Some people had already come as soon as they heard the explosion. Others, who live farther away, took a bit longer to get there because they all came by foot. Our house is on farmland, and no one dares drive around in their private cars these days for fear of being bombed.

Our neighbors' son, Walid Sha'ath, 12, was injured in his abdomen by shrapnel while he was at home. We waited for an ambulance to arrive. The European Hospital is only two kilometers from our house, but it took the ambulance about 10 minutes to get here. There's no road leading directly to the house, only a narrow, rough dirt path. The ambulance couldn't cross it and stopped about 50 meters away. We had to do several rounds, carrying the wounded to the ambulance. As soon as they were all in the ambulance, the medical team took them to the European Hospital.

At the hospital, they told us that my father, Musa Abu Mu'ammar, had died. The doctors said he'd arrived in critical condition and that they had tried to save him but failed. My brother Saddam and my wife, Hanadi, were taken into surgery. After about an hour, the doctors said they had passed away, too.

I was examined and treated in hospital. They found my jaw had several fractures and sewed up the wounds on my face. My children were lightly hurt by shrapnel. We were all discharged the next morning. As far as I know, Walid, our neighbors' son, is in better condition and has been discharged, too.

I'm so sad for our two little boys, who have been left motherless. Hazem is just a baby. He was still breastfeeding. How will I take care of them on my own in this awful situation? How can I get milk for Hazem when it's too dangerous to leave the house? I have nothing left to say. I can only pray.

Muhammad Musa Shehadah Abu Mu'ammar, 30, a widowed father of two, is a civil servant at the Palestinian Health Ministry. He lives in the a-Salem neighborhood of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. He gave his testimony by phone to Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem's field researcher in Ramallah, on 16 July 2014.

The names of those killed in the incident:

Musa Shehadeh Abu Mu'ammar, 57.

Hanadi Hamdan Abu Mu'ammar, 24.

Saddam Musa Shehadeh Abu Mu'ammar, 24.

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.