21 November 2010 | International Solidarity Movement
House bombed in Deir al-Balah
The afternoon of November 19th an Israeli fighter plane bombed a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. The house of the Dar Shorafa family, located 400 meters from the border fence, has disappeared. At the center of the date palm garden is a 3 m deep crater with the rubble of the former house scattered around.
At the time of attack the residents were absent, but the neighbors witnessed the attack. The Abu Mustafa family lives opposite them, approximately 50 meters from the bombed house. When the strike happened they were in the back yard hosting visitors. A moderate strike was heard and while the family was looking for shelter, a loud explosion rocketed debris through the air. Four people were hit and the roof of the family’s basic house was pierced five times.
Rokia Shaban, a 52 year old woman, was hit in the abdomen, the upper leg, and on the shoulder. She left the hospital this morning and is now recovering in her damaged home. Wijdan Samir (29), Abdal Aziz (20) and two year old Ibrahim Sulayman were slightly injured. Because the scene is close to the buffer zone, it took the ambulance more than 30 minutes to arrive. Palestinian public services, like police cars and ambulances, cannot come this near to the border without coordinating with the Israeli authorities on the risk of being shot. The buffer zone runs along the Israeli fence and “officially” has a width of 300 meters on the Palestinian side. Israel claims this is a no-go-zone and deems it legitimate to shoot people within the area. However, according to a recent UN report the danger zone runs up to 1.5 km.
Sulaiman Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, the head of the family, firmly states that there is absolutely no resistance taking place on this site, contradicting the terrorist accusations of the Israeli military spokesperson.
“The Israelis are lying by claiming that resistance is taking place here. This is but an agricultural zone: we grow olives and eggplants. Even during the attacks in Cast Lead, we were spared. I don’t know why we were attacked; it comes totally unexpected; we are normal civilians trying to live off our land.”
Israeli tanks hold daily incursions on the Palestinian side of the barrier here, but today the army has remained invisible.
“Maybe they finally went to sleep after they bombed us”, laughs Suleiman Ibrahim while comforting his crying two year old son.
Farmhouse bombed in Khan Younis
The previous night, a suspected Israeli drone bombed a farmhouse in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, severely injuring a man and mildly a child.
The shelling of the farmhouse began approximately at midnight on Friday night. The first hit next to the livestock farm and 31 year old Mohammed Abdel Hassan Abuhussien, on guard duty, tried to scramble for cover as the shrapnel flew scattering into the surrounding walls and roof, injuring 2 bulls and a cow. The second followed quickly after and this time Mohammed could not avoid the shrapnel flying directly at him. Luckilty his co-worker who was nearby came to rescue him.
“It’s just a farm yard, it’s a deserted place, that’s all there is there. It has never been a dangerous place – just livestock and a few factories. They have no idea why they’d hit the farm,” said his brother at the hospital. Mohammed was lying with his eyes half closed unable to communicate. He had a piece of shrapnel embedded in his shoulder and another in his right side that had penetrated his lung.
His wife, four months pregnant, and two young sons and daughter were at his bedside. They say it will be hard for them now and much will depend on Mohammed’s father to handle the situation. His brother was injured in the first intifada when he was 5 years old and still has the bullet inside his body. “We expect nothing less from Israel than to just attack innocent people like this— a guy sitting as a watchman for some cows and bulls. He’s just a worker with a growing family. His life was difficult enough,” he told us.
On the visit to the farm there were two holes in the roof of the barnyard where the shells landed; one made a dent in the concrete floor between two bull pens. It was apparently another attack from an Israeli drone and the explosive impact sent shrapnel flying around the farmhouse, injuring 2 bulls and a cow. The shrapnel is still inside the large animals’ bodies, and one is now unable to walk. At the time of the attack, the security guard Mohammed had been sitting between them at one side. The roof of the barnyard is littered with holes.
“It will cost 20,000 U.S. dollars to fix the roof,” said the farm owner Salah Saleem Afana. But this is not the first time for Salah. The Israeli forces destroyed 2 dunums of his land next to the border with Egypt during the war, turning to rubble a 400m2 house he had there.
“We also lost hundreds of animals and two relatives were injured when the car they were in was bombed. The cost of all that was 120,000 US$ — and our crime? Living and farming near to the border? Just like what will happen for us here, there was no compensation and no justice. It’s the same way the international community treats all the crimes against us everyday from the siege, the bombings, the destruction and the killings. When it’s the Palestinians they just look away.”