Killing in Jabaliya, “As Usual”

A boy rides his bike among the destruction in northern Gaza (Photo: PCHR)

WAFA This morning I was at the kitchen making breakfast for my mother and myself at my apartment near al-Kholafa’ Mosque in Jabaliya Refugee Camp (population 106,000), north of Gaza. The provocative buzz of Israeli drones have not ceased since more than ten days hovering over the camp.

I was carrying the teapot when an unprecedented explosion shook our quarter. The glass of the windows smashed, my mum shouted at me but I did not reply as I was frozen and carefully listening to the cries of the neighborhood children. My mum thought that I was wounded - or worse - so she screamed at me. I threw the teapot and rushed to her. She deeply sighed and hugged me once she saw I was OK.

I dashed to the scene of the explosion, while tens of neighbours were streaming into the streets, carrying their crying babies. Men and women in their sleeping clothes were anxious while evacuating houses.

I arrived the scene to find a huge pillar of black smoke raised in the sky, and did not see any thing as the clouds of dust and black smoke filled the area. Nobody could see any thing while fear of the Israelis shooting another missile was dominated.

“Ismaeeeeel … Ahmeeeed … Dinaaaa, where are you, are you OK?” Several other names, questions and screams were echoed amid the dark cloud of dust. Everybody was looking for his or her son, brother or grandmother. Some of them were trying to phone others with mobiles. But mobiles were invalid (no service) because of the buzz of the drones which defeats all wireless communication.

The hair, mustaches, eyelashes, and eye brows of the residents and paramedics turned to white because of the dust which was accompanied by the screams of the schoolboys and girls who fled their schools.

Groups of schoolchildren were joining their hands together and running, heading towards homes when a fireman ordered them not to be close to the area. Electric and telephone wires lay on the ground.

The firemen fought some flames in the nearby mosque and began treating the water tanks which were slashed by the shrapnel.

Around al-Kholafa Mosque, tens of people and paramedics have just arrived at the scene, helping the people who where evacuating their houses.

Large spots of blood stained the street. Blood was pouring from a man laying in the ground when frantic paramedics carried him away.

At least four houses were completely destroyed, a huge hole in the ground in their place. The curious and volunteers were deployed amid homes which were turned into heaps of debris. They inspected the pillars of cement, furniture, books and the blankets.

Tens other houses were also damaged. The front of the nearby house of the Abu Nasser family collapsed, several women and men were slowly staring at the ground while carrying dizzy children.

Shock and surprise registered in the faces of the people. I asked some of neighbours what exactly happened, and most of them said that the drone struck the quarter with a huge missile.

The astonished neighbours could not assess which was the exact house that was targeted because all of them (four houses) were completely destroyed.

“As I was wearing my clothes and preparing to go to work, a horrible explosion carried my home and hit it again in the ground, the glass of the windows smashed and dust filled my home,” eyewitness Mohammed Abdelhadi, 42, said.

“Really, I do not exactly which house was struck, all the houses were destroyed,” he added.

Amid the state of panic, I asked a woman what exactly happened. She was very worried and replied, “Am looking for my girl. What happened to her? She was going to the kindergarten.”

The woman, Um Firas, began to run faster and faster when she saw a man carrying her unharmed daughter. She hugged and kissed her strongly and replied, “As usual, they [the Israelis] bombarded a houses and killed people and destroyed houses.”

The victims of the attack were carried to two nearby hospitals of Kamal Udwan and al-Awda.

Udwan Hospital sources said that a teacher passing by, Maher Zaqout, 39, was instantly killed and 6 other citizens arrived the hospital with wounds. Additionaly, Manar al-Farra, director of al-Awda Hospital said that a woman and a girl were carried to the hospital after being wounded in the attack.

The “as usual” attack took place last night. I was paying a visit of condolence to my friend whose brother, Suleiman Abu Foul, 13, was killed by an Israeli tank.

Suleiman and his cousin, Ra’id Abu Zeid, also 13, were killed on Thursday (October 7) when an Israeli tank shelled them as they were heading to school.

While I was sitting at the condolence tent, closed to Udwan Hospital, an Israeli tank hit the house of Mahmoud Salem with a missile. Two cousins, Sofian Salem, 28, and Amin Salem, 26, were killed and several other wounded.

We left the condolence tent and ran to the hospital, and at least three ambulances were carrying the victims. When I asked one of the paramedics about the attack, he replied, “As usual, they bombarded a house and killed people.”

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