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From the field

Testimony: Israeli army bombs home in Gaza City, killing 21 members of a single family, Jan. '09

Nafez a-Daiyah, policeman

Our family's house was in the center of Gaza City, next to the Hassan al-Bana mosque. It had four floors, and more than thirty of us lived in it. My brother ‘Amer and my four married sisters live elsewhere.

Three days ago, the army called the house of our neighbors, the a-Shatiwi family, and told them that it intended to bomb the house. Their house is only fifteen meters from ours, and only one house stands between us. The a-Shatiwi family left the house after receiving the notice.

My wife, children, and I went to stay with my wife's parents. The distance from their house to our house is about 500 meters. Yesterday morning, after prayers, I heard two explosions from the area of our house. The local radio reported that the army blew up “the house of the a-Daiyah family,” in the center of Gaza City. I was at our house in five minutes.

I was shocked. The house was totally destroyed, with only a few pillars remaining. There were body parts everywhere. I started shouting the names of my family, hoping that somebody would answer. Neighbors came to help look for survivors. I only found my brother Muhammad. He was crying and screaming. He told me that the house had been bombed while he was on his way home from prayers, right when he was about to enter. We found ‘Amer. He was lightly wounded from shrapnel and was in shock. Then we found my brothers Rida and Radwan, who were in very bad condition. We managed to take them to a-Shifa'a Hospital. They're both in intensive care, and Radwan is brain dead.

From six in the morning until evening prayers, we kept on looking for body parts. This morning, we continued our search until noon. The neighbors helped us, using their two tractors. Rescue forces didn't come because they were busy in other places that had been bombed.

The members of my family who were killed in the bombing are my father, Fayiz, 60, my mother, Kawkab, 55, my sisters Raghdah, 30, and Sabrin, 26, both single. My brother Muhammad's wife, Tazal Isma'il, 26, who was nine months pregnant, and they had four children, Amani, 7, Qamar, 5, Arij, 3, and Yusef, 2. My brother Iyad, 35, his wife Rawdah, 28, and their children ‘Ali, 10, Khitam, 9, Alaa, 8, Duha, 6, Sharaf a-Din, 5, and Muhammad, 1. My brother Ramez, 25, his wife Wafaa, 20, and their children, Baraa, 3, and Salsabil, 4  months.

Nafez Fayez a-Daiyah, 38, married with seven children, is a policeman and a resident of Gaza City. His testimony was given to Iyad Hadad by telephone on 7 Jan. '09.