Reports and Studies

Gaza Diaries5: “All that is left is my sister, who is married and lives elsewhere. No one in the house survived”

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15 July 2014

Four days after the lethal attack on the Al Haj family house in Khan Younis, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights interviewed Yasser Al Haj, 25, the sole resident survivor of this attack.
According to Al Mezan's investigation, eight people were killed in the house; including two children and three women.
It is unclear why this attack was launched, and without any warning.
[Photo of Al Haj family after the attack: Al Mezan] At approximately 1:20 am on Thursday, 10 July 2014, Israeli aircraft fired a heavy missile at the house of Mahmoud Al Hai, 57, which is located in Block 'J' in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the south of the Gaza Strip.
The house consists of one floor and is about 100 square meters in area.
As a result, the house was completely destroyed while its residents were inside.
Eight people were killed, including two children: Mahmoud Al Haj, 57; Basma Al Haj, 48; (his wife); and their sons and daughters: Omar Al Haj, 20; Sa'ad Al Haj, 17; Tareq Al Haj, 18; Asmaa Al Haj; 22; Najlaa' Al Haj, 29; and Fatma Al Haj, 12.
Several adjacent houses sustained severe damage in the attack and 23 people were injured due to the scattering of debris.
It should be noted that houses in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip are usually small, close together and poorly constructed.
Yasser was at home with his brother when at 12:30 am his parents and three sisters returned from a visit to his uncle's house, which is nearby in the refugee camp.
He decided to have a chat with friends in the neighbourhood on the Ramadan night.
The friends met and spent some 30 minutes chatting.
They were approximately 500 meters from Yasser's house, but they felt anxious over the drones hovering in the area and decided to go home.
The drones could attack groups of men, without reason, experience had taught them.
Yasser was on his way home.
'I was about 200 meters from my house when, around 1:20pm, I heard a huge explosion and saw thick smoke coming from our house's narrow alleyway.
I entered the alley but the smoke was so thick that I could not see clearly.
I thought the IOF had bombarded our neighbors’ house.
I walked forward and was shocked to see it was our home that appeared to be totally destroyed.
I felt I was losing control and did not know what to do,' he informed Al Mezan.
Yasser saw neighbors joined by his uncle carrying the bodies of his family.
'I saw my uncle carrying the body of my mother,' he said, and 'I ran hysterically after him.
' Neighbors, noticing Yasser was in shock, stopped him and drove him to the hospital.
'It was maybe easier to find my family members at the hospital's morgue and, hopefully, wards of the hospital,' he added.
Yasser found dead bodies of brothers and sisters and was given a shot to calm him by a doctor.
He heard all of the details upon waking up.
'Now, it is only me and my sister, Fedaa', who is married and was in her house when the attacked occurred.
I do not understand why they attacked us; not even a warning was given to us'.
The IOF have directly targeted 276 houses since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
Of those hit, 265 of them were destroyed; 76 people were killed, all but 5 of whom were civilians, including 27 children and 21 women.
Directing attacks on civilian objects is a war crime that is prosecutable.