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From the field

Bombing of al-Bayumi family home in a-Nuseirat R.C. kills 13 people, 31 July 2014

The ruins of the al-Bayumi family home. Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem, 27 Aug. 2014
The ruins of the al-Bayumi family home. Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem, 27 Aug. 2014

On 31 July 2014, at approximately 8:30 P.M., the military attacked the home of the al-Bayumi family in a-Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip. Some of the debris fell on the house of neighbors, the al-’Assar family. The bombing killed 13 people. 

The al-Bayumi family home is in the center of a-Nuseirat camp. ‘Amer and Intesar al-Bayumi lived on the second floor of the house with their seven children. Due to the fighting and bombardments throughout Gaza, relatives of Intesar’s from al-Bureij R.C. came to shelter with them: Intesar’s mother, Zeinab Zaqut; the eight-person family of her brother, Nasser Zaqut; and the eleven-member family of her nephew, Ibrahim Abu Shuqah. The other apartments in the house were home to the extended al-Bayumi family. On the first floor lived ‘Amer’s parents, one of his brothers, and the brother’s family. On the third floor lived two other brothers with their families. In total, 43 people lived in the house. 

Ibrahim Abu Shuqah, 52, Intesar’s nephew, told B’Tselem’s field researcher how he, his wife, their seven children and two grandchildren came to be in the al-Bayumi house:  

Ibrahim Abu ShuqahAbout a week after the war began, I had no choice but to leave my house with my family. At first, we went to my wife’s brother in the village of a-Zuaidah. Two hours after we got there, there was a bombing. We were frightened and left his home. From there, we went to the storerooms of Al-Majd Co., cardboard manufacturers, opposite al-Bureij camp. My brother Muhammad, 62, his wife and their seven children were with us. There were mattresses, water, gas and electricity there. Things were good. 

More than a week later, the shellings increased and the storeroom was hit by shrapnel, so we decided to leave again. We went to ‘Amer al-Bayumi’s house in a-Nuseirat camp. He’s my aunt’s husband. When my brother saw there wasn’t enough room in the house for everyone, he took his wife and children and went to stay with relatives of ours in a-Zahraa, north of a-Nuseirat camp. I stayed with my family in the al-Bayumi home. 

About a week later, during which time there were air raids on various parts of the camp, my uncle ‘Abd a-Rahman Zaqut called me. He said he was sheltering in an UNRWA school in a-Nuseirat camp and suggested I come there with my family. We left the al-Bayumi house and went to the school. When we got there, we saw things were very bad. A lot of people who had fled their homes were there, and there was no water or food. We stayed there one night and went back to ‘Amer al-Bayumi’s. My wife and children and I sat in one room together. 

On the evening of 31 July 2014, the military attacked the al-Bayumis’ home and it collapsed with its occupants inside. Two of the apartments were empty at the time, as one family was outside the Gaza Strip and another was visiting relatives. There were people living in all the other apartments. 

The bombing killed 13 people: ten inside the house, nine of whom were on the second floor. 

Ibrahim Abu Shuqah lost his wife, two of his daughters, and his granddaughter to the bombing. He described that evening’s events:

On Thursday, 31 July 2014, at around 8:30 P.M., I was at the home of relatives – the Hamadah Abu Shuqah family – about thirty meters away from my uncle’s house. My cousin and I were sitting there, passing the time together. Suddenly, I heard a massive explosion and then immediately felt myself fly up in the air with the mattress I was sitting on. I couldn’t hear anything right after the explosion.

I ran out into the street and realized the al-Bayumi house had been bombed. The power was out and the street was filled with dust. I ran over to the house and tried to go in, but people there held me back because they were afraid it would be bombed again. I couldn’t stay outside when my family was in that house. I turned on my cellphone flashlight, held the phone between my teeth, and started feeling my way through the wreckage with my hands. When I reached the second floor, where ‘Amer’s apartment had been, I found my wife under the debris. I called out to her but she didn’t answer. She had been hit in the head and I realized she was dead. I carried her out into the street. I stumbled and fell in the rubble a few times on the way, because I was alone. People were afraid to enter the house. 

Then, neighbors came over and helped carry out the wounded people and dead bodies, a process which lasted until early next morning. Ibrahim Abu Shuqah related:

I continued searching until the sun came up. People came over and tried to calm me down. They said there was no one left under the ruins, but I didn’t believe them until they told me the names of my children and said they were in Shuhadaa al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. They also told me that some of the wounded had been taken to a-Shifaa Hospital.

I felt so tired. I walked away from the people talking to me and sat down a few meters away, next to a house. I asked for water, and someone brought me some. Ten minutes later, a man came and asked me about my daughter Islam. He told me he was going to get her. He brought her over, and she was all right. I found out that the force of the blast flung her about 12 meters away and she landed in a neighboring house, but she wasn’t hurt. 

I was very confused and didn’t know whether to go to a-Shifaa Hospital or Shuhadaa al-Aqsa Hospital. I left Islam with relatives. I started walking, barefoot. It was very early in the morning and there were no cars on the road. I kept walking until I reached the entrance to a-Zuaidah, a few kilometers away. Then my cousin, Ahmad Abu Shuqah, came by and picked me up in an ambulance. He took me to Shuhadaa al-Aqsa Hospital, where I identified the bodies. 

* He gave his testimony to Khaled al-‘Azayzeh on 28 August 2014.

The bombing also damaged the neighbors’ house, killing three others: ‘Abir al-’Assar, who was nine months pregnant; her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Rinad; and her brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s daughter, Lama al-‘Assar, 6. Ashraf al-‘Assar, ‘Abir’s husband, 36, told B’Tselem what he went through that night:  

Ashraf al-‘Assar. Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem, 27 Aug. 14

On Thursday, 31 July 2014, at around 8:15 P.M., my family and I were in our apartment, in one room. I was saying the evening prayers and the children were lying on their mattresses. Suddenly, there was a very powerful explosion and the walls tumbled down on us. My wife screamed and cried out me, and the children shouted and called out for me and their mother. I tried to get up to save them but I couldn’t, because I was trapped under debris. I tried several times, bruising my hands and shoulders in the process. 

I started shouting, calling my brothers and my father. It was dark and the house was full of dust. We were trapped under the rubble. I think we stayed that way for about 10-15 minutes. My daughters kept screaming, but my wife ‘Abir, who was nine months pregnant, had fallen silent. 

A few minutes later I heard voices of people who had come to help. When I heard their footsteps over the debris, I started shouting loudly, but no one heard me. I only had air coming in through a small opening in front of my nose. But I guess they heard my daughters shouting. I heard my daughter Nagham say, “Daddy’s here.” I heard someone getting closer. He started removing the debris, and with their help I managed to get my hand out. I pointed to where my wife, son and my daughter Rinad had been and asked them to get my wife and children out before me. They got ‘Abdallah out from under the wreckage. I heard him screaming so I was somewhat relief, because that meant he was alive. Then they searched for my wife with flashlights. She was close to me and when I saw her face under the rubble, I realized she was dead because her eyes were closed and she wasn’t breathing. At the same time, they also tried to get Rinad out. When I saw her, I realized she was dead too. 

My wife was about to give birth. Two days before she was killed, I asked her to stay in hospital until the birth, but because of the war she insisted on staying at home with the kids. She feared for their lives.  The fetus was a girl. Sometimes, we talked about what name to give the baby and I said that if it was a boy, I would call him Ahmad. We hadn’t decided on a girl’s name. 

* He gave his testimony to Khaled al-‘Azayzeh on 27 August 2014.

The people killed in the incident:

The daughters of ‘Amer and Intesar al-Bayumi:
‘Abir ‘Amer ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Bayumi, 18
Asil ‘Amer ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Bayumi, 15
Hadil ‘Amer ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Bayumi, 13

‘Amer al-Bayumi’s nepher: Al-Hassan Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Bayumi, 13

Intesar al-Bayumi’s relatives whou had come from al-Bureij R.C.:

Her mother: Zeinab Yusef ‘Issa Zaqut, 77
A nephew (her brother’s son): Hassan Naser Hussein Zaqut, 21

Wife of a nephew (her sister’s son): Ni’mah Darwish Hussein Abu Shuqah, 44
Her daughters: Labibah Ibrahim Shaker Abu Shuqah, 23
Labibah’s daughter: Malak Shaker Muhammad Abu Shuqah, 1
Ilham Ibrahim Shaker Abu Shuqah, 18

Killed in a nearby house:

‘Abir Nahed Muhammad al-’Assar, 23
Her daughter: Rinad Ashraf Muhammad al-‘Assar, 2
Her niece: Lama Raafat Muhammad al-‘Assar, 6