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From the field

Four members of Harareh family killed by Israeli shelling, Sheja'iyeh neighborhood, Gaza City, 21 July 2006

Muhammad Hararah, student

Khaled al-Kaharneh

I live with my family on the second floor of a three-story building in the Mintar area, which is east of the Sheja'iyeh neighborhood in Gaza . Two days ago, on Friday, around 5:50 A.M., I went onto the roof of the house to see the tanks approaching our neighborhood. My uncle, Muhammad Hamdi Hararah, 27, was in the street. I called out to him, "I see the tanks coming." He said he was coming up. My mother Sabah , and my brothers 'Amer and Muamen also came onto the roof. When my uncle, who is disabled, reached the top of the stairwell, I brought him a chair so he could rest. He sat in the chair inside the stairwell, and I went outside onto the roof to see the tanks.

At that moment, I saw a flash coming from the tank, which was about one kilometer from us. I moved back a bit to tell them that the tank was firing, but I did not manage to say anything before the shell hit the window of the stairwell. I saw lots of dust. I fell to the floor.

Shell fragments had struck me in the back and legs, and I couldn't get up. I shouted to my uncle, but he didn't respond. I tried to get up to see him, but couldn't. He was not where he was previously. When the dust cleared, I looked at the roof and only saw the upper part of his body. The bottom part was ripped to shreds. I almost fainted from the sorrow and pain. When I saw pieces of his body all around, I forgot my pain.

The stairwell on the Hararah family roof. Photo: Zaki Kahil, B'Tselem, 27.3.06.

My brothers Hamdi and 'Omar heard the blast and shouts and came up to the roof. They passed by me and stood next to the parts of our uncle's body. I looked at where the tanks were gathered and suddenly saw another flash coming from the tank. This was the second shell, and it was fired about thirty seconds after the first. I didn't have time to warn my brothers. My mother was in the stairwell, next to where the first shell had struck. The second shell fell in the same place. 'Omar was wounded and fell next to the parts of my uncle's body. He said he was in pain and that his stomach hurt. I told him to get up and go down the stairs. He crawled and I crawled behind him, and then I saw our mother, her body torn into pieces, and the bodies of my brothers 'Amer and Muamen, one on top of the other. I lost my senses and started to scream.

With great effort I managed to go downstairs. Another uncle of mine went down and started his bus. He took me to a-Shifa Hospital , and there I was told that the rest of my family had been taken by ambulance.

We always went up to the roof when the Israeli army carried out operations in the neighborhood. I think they shelled our house because it is higher than the others, and it overlooks the eastern border.

Muhammad Jabber Hamdi Hararah, 20, is a student, and a resident of the a-Sheja'iyeh neighborhood, Gaza City. The testimony was given to Zaki Kahil at the witness's home on 23 July 2006.