‘Blood, body parts, screams’: Gaza reels after Israeli strikes | Israelo-Palestinian conflict


Rafa, Gaza – Another night of terror unfolded in the southern Gaza Strip as an attack by Israeli warplanes killed a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement, Khaled Mansour, as well as many civilians nearby.

Until the early hours of Sunday, civil defense and rescue teams continued to recover the bodies of the dead and injured from the rubble of the refugee camp, despite limited equipment.

Doctors said seven people were killed in the Rafah bombing on Saturday, among 43 others killed in Israel’s three-day attack, including 15 children and four women. More than 300 other Palestinians were injured.

The rescue process was made more difficult by the narrow lanes of the camp due to the proximity of asbestos-roofed houses lined up with each other.

Ashraf al-Qaisi, 46, said he had no hesitation in allowing bulldozers to demolish his entire house to help rescue teams reach his neighbors buried in the rubble.

“It’s the hardest night of my life,” al-Qaisi told Al Jazeera. “I was sitting in my house with my wife and six children until we suddenly heard the sound of shelling and part of the ceiling collapsed. One of my sons was injured.

Ashraf al-Qaisi, 46, second from left, let bulldozers demolish his house for rescuers to save his neighbors [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

‘Enough is enough’

Al-Qaisi ran outside to find that a number of his neighbors’ homes had been completely destroyed by Israeli shelling. “These are difficult times. Blood, body parts, screams under the rubble, bodies found dead and injured,” al-Qaisi said.

“It was very difficult for the bulldozers to reach the targeted house, so I let the bulldozers demolish my whole house in order to save my next door neighbours,” he told Al Jazeera as he stood on the rubble of his house.

Although al-Qaisi is unemployed and has no income to support his family, he said he did not hesitate to allow the rescue team to demolish his house. “The situation was difficult to put into words,” he said. “I wanted to help in any way.”

“I tell the world enough is enough. The wars, bombings and killings that are happening to us are enough. We are tired. We are really tired,” al-Qaisi said as he held his wounded son, Ahmed.

Wissam Joudeh, 39, did exactly what al-Qaisi did. He too let the bulldozers partially demolish his house so that rescue teams could evacuate the injured.

“I was sitting with my family when we heard and felt shelling that shook the place,” he said.

“I got out and the missile hit right behind our house. Moments before the civil protection vehicles rushed in, the situation was very difficult. Wounded were screaming under the rubble… [There were] burned bodies, and it was late at night.

Wesam Joudah
Wissam Joudeh allowed bulldozers to partially demolish his house for rescue teams to evacuate the injured [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

“Gaza is alone”

The only thing the ambulances could do was to demolish al-Qaisi’s house and part of Joudeh’s house to facilitate access to the bombing site.

“Even though I only bought this house three months ago, after a long struggle to find stability, I had no hesitation in letting it be demolished in an attempt to reach the injured and the bodies under the rubble. “, said Joudeh. “They are my neighbors and I was very sad about what happened to them.”

Joudeh called on the international and humanitarian community to put pressure on Israel to stop its repeated attacks on Gaza.

“Gaza is alone. We didn’t start arguing with anyone. We are civilians who just want to live in peace.

Just north of Gaza, Najwa Abu Hamada, 46, had not yet recovered from the shock of losing her only son, Khalil, 19, in a bomb attack near their home in the refugee camp from Jabalia.

Abu Hamada said she had just had lunch with her son before he went out with one of his friends.

“Less than a minute after he left, I heard a heavy shelling,” Abu Hamada said. “Immediately I went out into the street shouting ‘my son, my son!'”

Najwa Abu Hamada, 46 years old
Najwa Abu Hamada, 46, lost her only son, Khalil, 19 [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

“He is my whole life”

The attack took place in front of a supermarket next to their home, killing five civilians, including children.

“The first thing I saw was the body of my son’s best friend. That’s when I screamed and knew my son might have been killed too,” Abu Hamada said. “A few minutes later, I found my son. He was drenched in his blood and lying on the ground. I was screaming so loud calling an ambulance.

Abu Hamada said Khalil was her only son, whom she conceived after 15 years of trying to have children.

“I did five cycles of in vitro fertilization, all of which failed. Then the last cycle of IVF was successful and Khalil was revealed.

“He is my whole life. I wanted him to graduate quickly so I could find him a wife. I don’t have anyone but him. I can’t believe what happened and I don’t don’t want to believe,” Abu Hamada said, bursting into tears.

Khalil, 19, killed in Gaza
Relatives mourn the death of Khalil, a 19-year-old Palestinian, killed by an Israeli missile strike [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

“We Can’t Take Anymore”

Umm Mohammad al-Nairab, 60, wept over the deaths of her grandchildren, Ahmad, 11, and Moamen, 5.

“Last night the two children went out to buy things at the supermarket opposite the house where people gathered after the party [Isha] prayers,” al-Nairab said, sobbing profusely. “It was only moments before we heard a heavy shelling.”

“Their parents and I came out shouting, ‘Our children, our children!’ There were body parts soaked in their own blood,” al-Nairab said.

The children’s parents were too distraught to speak to members of the media.

“Ahmed was very accomplished in his studies. He is the eldest son and he has two sisters,” al-Nairab said.

“What did they do to get bombed like this? The street was full of pedestrians and children. How many families in Gaza are having a wake today because of the ongoing Israeli aggression? We can’t take it anymore.

Umm Mohammad al-Nairab
Umm Mohammad al-Nairab cries after the murder of her two grandchildren [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]
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