One such family is that of 75-year-old Muhammad Hamad of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. Six members of his family were killed when Israel bombed the home of his thirty-year-old son Abd al-Hafez Hamad, a commander with the armed group Islamic Jihad, on Tuesday.
“The missile fell on my family with no warning,” he told the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem (full testimony below).
There is no safe refuge in the Gaza Strip, and no escape for its more than 1.7 million residents.
Aseel Ibrahim Fayek al-Masri, 16, whose 14-year-old brother died in an attack on the family home in Beit Hanoun on Wednesday, died after sustaining injuries in the same incident.
Suleiman Salim Mousa al-Astal, 17, and Mousa Mohammad Taher al-Astal, 14, were killed after being hit by a missile as they sat watching the World Cup with friends on the beach overnight on Thursday. The two boys were among eight reported fatalities after an Israeli aircraft bombed the crowd of people watching the football game.
Abdullah Ramadan Jamil Abu Ghazal, 4, was with his mother in their home when he was hit by shrapnel fragments from an Israeli missile that exploded nearby. Abdullah died instantly when he sustained head injuries.
The United Nations stated in a situation report that “the targeting and destruction of residential properties in Gaza is the main cause of civilian casualties.”
Israeli military propagandists have had a hard time spinning the images of dead children being pulled from the rubble in their favor.
Via its spokesperson’s Twitter account, the Israeli army has published crude and unconvincing attempts to justify its bombing of civilian homes:
Six children were among eight killed on Tuesday when a missile struck the home of an alleged Hamas activist in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Five families reside in the building bombed by the Israeli military, which claims that the home was the residence of Hamas commander Odeh Kaware.
As the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights stated today, a home cannot be classified as a military target because it is owned by a fighter. The lack of secondary explosions in homes targeted by Israel gives the lie to Israel’s claim that the houses were used for weapons storage.
The rights group says the houses are being destroyed as a punitive measure targeting members of armed groups in Gaza and their families.
In the evening, especially during Ramadan, we usually sit outside near the entrance to our house. We have two sofas there.
On Tuesday evening, 8 July 2014, I was sitting there as usual with my wife, Rasmiya (62), and my sons and their families: ‘Abd al-Hafez (30), his wife, Suha, and their daughter, Nur (5); Mahdi (46) and his children Rakan (2), Kinan (4) and Dina (16); and Ibrahim (22).
We sat and talked. At 11:00 P.M., the power was cut off because the electricity supply runs on rotation. We sat there a while longer and then I got up and called the little ones – Rakan, Nur and Kinan – to come inside with me to get ready for bed. We went in to the house, spread out our mattresses and sat on them for a while. Then Rakan and Nur got up and went to the door leading to the yard. Kinan stayed inside with me.
About three minutes later, I heard a loud explosion. I grabbed Kinan and went out into the street with him. It was full of smoke and dust. I walked on bits of glass. I left Kinan with people in the street and went back into the yard to check on the rest of the family. I found bodies lying on the ground covered in blood, with their clothes torn. Everything was full of shrapnel and blood. Some neighbors came with flashlights. When they lit up the yard, I was shocked – I saw the bodies of my three sons, ‘Abd al-Hafez, Mahdi and Ibrahim, my wife, my granddaughter Dina, and my daughter-in-law Suha. The two other little ones, Rakan and Nur, were lightly injured.
I went into shock. The neighbors held me because I couldn’t stand. I felt like I was going to faint from the horror of it. The missile fell on my family with no warning. I assume they wanted to hit ‘Abd al-Hafez, but what did the rest of the family do wrong? Why did they kill an entire family?