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‘The land of goodness turned upside down to the wasteland in 5 minutes’ — Eyewitness to massacre

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 (Photo: Mohammed Alafifi)

‏Albiltaji Street in Alshejaya neighborhood in the east of Gaza. (Photo: Mohanned Alafifi)

Scorched, abandoned, leftover, dejected, wilted, corroded, smudged with the color of blood and love though it hasn’t seen the latter since 31 days of atrocious onslaught. Life there is lying between death and perpetual death which they have experienced plenty times before experiencing the meaning of life, before mastering the spelling of L.I.F.E and getting the better of death.

On July, 20th, 2014, at 6:20 am, Hamed Asheikh Khalil could snatch some sleep for only 10 minutes through which a streak of consternation buckled the place. “I woke up with a distraught shake by the very heavy shelling of the Zionist artillery, F16, and unmanned planes, paving my way down to the staircase which my whole family gathered there as we thought it was the safest place in the house, never imagining that this staircase would be the eyewitness of the ferocious massacre of 7 members of my family,” he desperately said.

As iPal initiative members, we traced our way to Albeltaji street in Alshejaya neighborhood where the stories of thousands are buried under the rubble and need a million years to be rescued. Hamed Asheikh Khalil, 40 years, is one of these stories that are and will still be untold even if words stay infinitely. Hamed along with his family, including 7 daughters, son, sister, brother and his wife, father and step-mother went through a fierce night that is carved into his mind.

The staircase where the massacre was committed. (Photo: Mohammed Alafifi)

The staircase where the massacre was committed. (Photo: Mohanned Alafifi)

The Unhealed Tragedy

“Within only 5 minutes, the land of goodness turned upside down to the wasteland; thousands evacuating to nowhere, to nothingness, and missiles were falling like chips of rain on the civilians’ homes, and I hastily rushed to gather my whole family in the staircase to escape from inevitable death which intended to whip my family by striking an unmanned plane rocket which punctured the wall of the house and headed directly to the very small garden yard causing severe injuries to my neighbor who sheltered us. After that, missiles penetrated the house and….” Hamed paused a bit trying to grab his tears and continued, “And the blood covered my four daughters and my pregnant wife; I saw my daughter falling down before my eyes. The bonfire smoldered the whole place.”

Whom to Rescue? The Story of Her Eyes

Hamed was totally distracted by the scene of blood and did not know whom to rescue as his four daughters and pregnant wife were bloodstained in the staircase. “When my daughter Heba, 13 years, fell down, she said no words but many through her deplorable eyes looking at me to rescue her as if she wailed (please do rescue me, I want to live)–” Hamed’s tears trudged his pale face like drops of water.

“Her face was yellow like a lemon while my other daughter Maha, 7 years, was injured by a missile in her neck and was totally unconscious, I thought she was dead. Then I wrap my wife on my lap as she was severely injured in her back and the blood was leaking out from her mouth. I was always telling her to care for my children when I die, I never imagined that she would die before me. Then, I turned left to find my son’s leg bleeding, so I took my blouse off to tie it on his leg. I was like the lifebuoy which they wanted to cling to.

Hamed Alsheikh Khalil weeping over his killed family. (Photo: Mohammed Alafifi)

Hamed Alsheikh Khalil weeping over his killed family. (Photo: Mohanned Alafifi)

Hamed’s misery is multi-doubled since his other 10-year daughter, Fatma, had an injury in her jaw and her mouth was full of blood. “We tried to call the Red Crescent and the Red Cross many times but they couldn’t help as there were two ambulances that got bombed by the Zionist artillery causing the death of the paramedics, so my oldest daughter decided to go out under the fire to look for an ambulance.

“Whom to rescue? this question was still hanging, and I had to choose! I told my son, father and my other daughters whose injuries were not critical to flee the home under the fire because there was no other choice. The only choice  was To die or to die.”

“I held Heba between my arms and ran a long distance on my shriveled feet to reach the ambulance that I barely found while I left the others injured in the staircase in order to get back to them, but unfortunately I never could get back as the shelling was tightening in every passing minute, and thousands were running in the street which features were wiped off. I then got into my neighbor’s van and found my daughter who left home to look for an ambulance. We paved the way to Al Shifa hospital. On our arrival, doctors told me that I lost Heba! Till now, I can’t believe that I lost my closest daughter to my heart, her eyes are still roaming around crying out ‘please do rescue me, I want to live’.”

Save Maha’s Soul

Maha Hamed Alsheikh Khalil, 7 years

Maha Hamed Alsheikh Khalil, 7 years

His eyes were fraught with sadness, grief, lament, and many things that could never be described. At 2:00 pm, he was told that his pregnant wife Jawaher, 37 years, daughter Samia, 3,  sister Aida, 45, brother Abd Alrahman, 53, his brother’s wife Mona, 48, and his step-mother Adeela, 67, passed away due to their critical injuries.

Yet the greatest miracle was that his daughter Maha, whom he thought was dead, is still alive.

“I can’t sleep, aunt, I hate to sleep. Every time I try to close my eyes, I only see my mother and sisters bloodstained lying on the floor, I see darkness, I see death, I see smoke, I see missiles falling, I see….” — Maha’s words to her aunt who is staying with her at Al Shifa hospital.

Maha now has a quadriplegia and can’t move, but doctors recently told her father that she could feel her legs and hands. Besides, his daughter, Fatma, was transferred to Egypt to have a plastic surgery on her jaw. “Maha’s childhood is being killed,” Hamed says.

None can deny that Gaza’s bleeding needs ages to be stopped, but people are surprisingly very steadfast though psychologically tired. Gazans are extremely persistent to achieve their demands, as they are the demands of every human at the first level.

(Photo: Mohammed Alafifi)

Zeyad Hamed Alsheikh Khalil’s injury in his leg. (Photo: Mohanned Alafifi)

Regarding Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Person in Time of War adopted in 1949: The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

Regarding Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Person in Time of War adopted in 1949: Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture is prohibited.

Ishraq Othman
About Ishraq Othman

Ishraq Othman is a 23-year Palestinian working as an English teacher at the American International Center (AIC). She is a media assistant at iPal, a translator at the Center for Political and Development studies (CPDS), and an editorial intern at the Institution for Middle East Studies- Canada (IMESC). She lives in Gaza.

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6 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo on August 21, 2014, 2:49 pm

    The face of zionism.

    Pretty ugly , isn,t it.

    Too bad zionists cannot see themselves the way civilized people see them.

    Maybe they would stop asking ! “Why do they hate us”.

  2. annie
    annie on August 21, 2014, 2:51 pm

    this is an amazing article. and phil informs me maha was featured on NBC report, and other msm in the US when they were in shifa hospital. and Ishraq tells me it’s very unlikely her father has any idea of that. why would he even think of it having lost so much.

    and to have to choose, i can’t imagine. it’s more than i can fathom. this is an incredible article.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid on August 21, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Fantastic writing. Zionism 2014 from the sharp end, that sacred duty to repair the world. As Mads Gilbert said this is no natural disaster.

    This is a system run by jews for jews. And it is devoid of morality.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on August 21, 2014, 9:57 pm

      “This is a system run by jews for jews.”

      No, This is a system run for the benefit of certain Jews.

  4. just
    just on August 21, 2014, 3:47 pm

    I hope that this incredible article gets spread far and wide… a searing account of one family targeted and massacred by the Beast.

    Let the UNHRC absorb and try to explain this. Little wonder that Israel doesn’t want HRW and AI and B’tselem to go to Gaza…..the truth is out, though. Nothing can silence it, nobody can hide it. Thank you, Ishraq Othman, for this amazing chronicle that documents these war crimes– these war crimes that are among so very many.

    Bless Hamed Alsheikh Khalil, sweet Maha and their remaining family.

    (if I am not mistaken, Maha’s birthday was August 18th.)

  5. globalconsciousness
    globalconsciousness on August 22, 2014, 1:22 am

    Yes, just, Maha’s birthday was celebrated at Al-Shifa

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