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Testimony: Israeli soldiers kill ‘Atiyyah a-Samuni at home, before his family, Gaza City, Jan. '09

Fahed a-Samuni, farmer

On Saturday [3 January], at dusk, I was with my mother and six of my brothers and sisters in our house in the a-Samuni neighborhood in Gaza City. Our house has two rooms, a kitchen and a shower, and has a tin roof. Air force planes were bombing our area, so we decided to go to the house of my father, who lives with his second wife, because its roof is made of concrete and is a safer house than ours.

We got there at evening-prayer time. We were 19 people there, all gathered in one room: my father, ‘Atiyyah, 47, my mother, Zahwa, 42, my father's second wife, Zinat, 37, and my brothers and sisters: Fahed, 16, Faraj, 22, Fuad, 17, Fawzi, 15, Muhammad, 13, Kan'an, 12, Mahmoud, 11, Amal, 9, 'Abdallah, 9, Suheb, 8, Nur a-Din, 5, Ahmad, 4, Hamam, 2, Muhannad,  one and a half, and the baby Ansam, 25 days old. After prayers, Hamdi, my cousin, came to the house, and my brother Faraj and I went to sit with him in the kitchen.

The bombing in the area continued all night. At sunrise, my father boiled water on a fire outside the house and made tea for us. We drank it and then we heard explosions nearby.

My father opened the front door and the door to the room in which we were sitting. He said that if the soldiers wanted to come into the house, better that they come in without blowing it up. At 7:20 A.M., a shell landed next to the fence of the house, and then we heard soldiers talking in Hebrew. My brothers and sisters got really scared and cried. Then we heard shooting for about two minutes, and then someone called out in Hebrew that the owner of the house must go outside. My father understands Hebrew and he got up and went towards the door.

Just as he reached the door, soldiers entered the yard. They stood about 3-4 meters from my fater and ordered him to put his hands up. The second he raised his hands, a group of about 10 soldiers, with paint on their faces and branches on their shoulders, fired more than 20 bullets at him, and he fell. The soldiers didn't stop and fired also into the room at family members. The bullets struck my mother, who was hit in the back, Ahmad, who was wounded in the chest, Kan'an, who was hit in the thigh, ‘Abdallah, who was wounded in the thigh, Amal, who was wounded in the legs by shrapnel, and Faraj, who was hit in the head. I wasn't wounded.

Then the soldiers came into the house and broke down the door to the second room. One of them threw something inside that exploded, and the room went up in flame.

My father lay there bleeding, and we began to choke from the smoke coming from the other room. We wanted to go out, but the soldiers didn't let us. Faraj said to the soldiers, “katan, katan” [“small” in Hebrew]. One of the soldiers aimed a rifle with a flashlight on us and ordered us to go into the kitchen. We were there for 5-7 minutes and after that, the soldiers ordered us to leave the house. The brothers and sisters who weren't injured helped the others. I picked up Ahmad, who was bleeding from the chest.

We left my father's body in the house. The soldiers ordered us to walk straight, without looking right or left. We walked about 700 meters, to Salah-a-Din Street. There were soldiers on the roof of our neighbor's house, and they ordered us to remove our clothes. We did that, and then they ordered us to get dressed and walk in the opposite direction, not toward Gaza, but toward Netzarim. I told them that I wanted to take my wounded siblings to the hospital, but they didn't agree. We walked until we got to the house of Majed a-Samuni, a relative. From there we called the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, but they said they could get to the area because of the constant firing. We stayed in Majed's house. Ahmad kept bleeding, and at 2:00 A.M. on January 5, he died.

Around 7:00 A.M., a relative of ours, Ashraf a-Samuni, came and told us we had to leave the house waving a white flag.

We left the house with white flags, leaving Ahmad's body behind in Majed's house. After we walked about 30 meters, tanks shelled the house. We continued to the house of Abu Ashraf a- Sawafiry, and there soldiers stopped us again. After five minutes, they let us continue walking toward the city. We walked about three kilometers, until we got to the “Star” soft drink factory, where there were ambulances that took us to the hospital.

Fahed 'Atiyyah Hilmi a-Samuni, 19, is a farmer and a resident of Gaza City. His testimony was given to 'Abd al-Karim S'adi by telephone on 13 Jan. '09.