Testimony: “They found her body in the kitchen”

Abdallah Tawfiq Hamdan Kashku, 44, married with four children, is a policeman who mediates disputes and is a resident of Gaza City. His testimony was given to Khaled Azaiza on 30 December 2008 alongside the family’s bereavement tent:

My family and I live in a three-floor house in al-Zeitun, Gaza City. On Sunday [28 December], around 7:00pm, I was sitting with nine members of my family around a bonfire in the yard. It was cold, and we didn’t have electricity to heat the house. I asked my little daughter, Ibtihal, who is eight, go up to the second floor, to the apartment of her brother Talal and his wife to ask for some chamomile for tea. She got up and went upstairs.

I turned on the generator to turn on the light. Then we heard the sound of planes in the sky. I heard a buzz and within a few seconds, I found myself under ruins. Everything collapsed so quickly, like in an earthquake. I didn’t know what happened to me or to my family. I began to cry out for help. The smoke was thick. I couldn’t see any of my family, who had been sitting with me a few moments earlier.

It took a few moments before I realized that the house had collapsed because of the bomb. Neighbors rushed over to lift the ruins off us. People took my family to the hospital, some by car and some by ambulance. I was taken to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, where the doctors examined and treated me. I was lightly wounded, a bit in the leg. Later, a doctor came and asked me to identify a woman’s body. I went with him and immediately saw that it was Talal’s wife, Maysa Munir Yihya Kashku. She had been struck in the head. I asked my relatives and the doctors where the rest of my family was. They told me that my wife had a broken pelvis and that the others suffered light wounds but that they hadn’t found my little daughter, Ibtihal. I felt horrible, worrying so much about her. I felt even worse because she had gone upstairs because of me, after I asked her to bring me chamomile.

Early the next morning, my brothers went home to look for Ibtihal. They looked under the ruins and found her body in the kitchen on the second floor.
Almost the entire house collapsed. The kitchen on the second floor was hanging above the ruins.

Our house was in a quiet area. I don’t think there are military objects in the area. We don’t have relatives or neighbors who are wanted. I am still in shock from what happened. In a few moments time, the life of my family turned completely upside down.

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