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From the field

Israeli military shelled apartment building in northern Gaza, killed three civilians and made hundreds homeless. 'Izbat Beit Hanun, 24 July 2006

Ahmad 'Abeid, Father of two

Abdallah Abu Mgheseb

I live on the first floor of building No. 10 in the Nada Towers . From my house, it is possible to see the other towers. There are five people in my family: my wife and me, our two children, who are four and six years old, and my mother, who is 80 and disabled.

Yesterday, at around 1:30 P.M., I heard two explosions and the screams of women. I went to the window facing the northeast and looked at the road. I didn't see anybody. Then I went to the front door, and when I got there, I heard another blast. My wife was standing with the children next to the refrigerator in the kitchen. From the shock of the blast, the refrigerator door opened and knocked the three of them down. I heard their screams and went to them. I picked up the children, helped my wife get up, and we immediately left the house.

We went down the steps and when we got to the last step, I saw a wounded young man lying on the ground. A neighbor was standing next to him. He took him to the hospital. When we got to the yard of the building, we saw two bodies in terrible condition. They were mangled and it was impossible to identify them. It was a horrible sight. I tried to cover my wife's face so she wouldn't see it, and I held the two children close to my shoulder and chest to hide it from them. It was so horrible that even adults couldn't bear it. It was hair-raising and shocking, and if adults can't bear such sights, they are certainly not suitable for small children like mine.

I took my wife and children to the clinic in 'Izbat Beit Hanun, which is located about forty meters from the towers. Then I returned to the gate of my building. I saw the bodies of the three dead. Two of them were lying at the entrance to the tower in which I live and the third was about fifteen meters away. I saw an ambulance come and take the bodies.

Then I went to check my neighbors in the building. Eighteen families, totaling one hundred people, live in the tower. On my way up, I saw ten adults and about twenty children, and I suggested that they leave the tower and go to the medical clinic.

I went back to my apartment and took clothes for my wife, the children, and me. In the meantime, my brother had come in his car and taken my wife and children to my wife's family, in Mashru' Beit Lahiya.

I thank God that my mother, who is disabled and unable to walk, was not at home on the day of the bombing. She was visiting my brother who lives in Gaza . I don't want to think what would have happened if she were here. The bomb fragments fell in her room and hit her bed.

I stayed around the building until evening. Our apartment is very precious to me. We received it as a gift from the Palestinian Authority ten years ago, when our situation was bad and we didn't have the money to buy a place.

I have gone to live in a structure intended for use as a shop. It belongs to my father-in-law and is in Mashru' Beit Lahiya. Our apartment is now uninhabitable. All our furniture was damaged in the bombing, and there is a danger that they will bomb the place again.

Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud 'Abeid, 40 married with two children, is a resident of 'Izbat Beit Hanun and a clerk in the Palestinian Authority. His testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah on 25 July 2006.