Saturday, January 10, 2009

Massacre of a family seeking sanctuary

The Samounis claim they were guided to a safe haven by Israeli troops – only to be cut down by shells

By Donald Macintyre and Said Ghazali in Jerusalem and Fares Akram in Gaza

The Independent
Saturday, 10 January 2009

"....Some explain that Israeli troops had explicitly told them to remain in the building – in several cases after actually escorting them there.....

....When the smoke began to clear, she looked around and saw what she says were between 20 and 30 bodies, and 20 wounded. The dead included her own husband Tawfiq, her father-in-law Rashed, who "was hit in the head and whose brain was on the floor", and a five-month-old baby "whose whole brain was outside his body".....

Ahmad says they counted 25 bodies – 10 adults and the rest children. One of the infants was the five-year-old daughter of his cousin Salah. "Her last words were 'Baba, Baba' and she died," he said. "She was hit in the head."....

Interviewed at Al Quds hospital yesterday, Ibteffam Al-Samouni said soldiers had "fired missiles" in the neighbourhood on Sunday and broke into five houses inhabited by Samouni family members and told the residents to leave. They had then walked to the warehouse belonging to their relatives. She added: "The soldiers told us: 'Stay there and shut the door, habbibi [my love]."

"We are civilians, we are farmers, we don't take part in any kind of resistance," said the 30-year-old woman.

After the shelling on Monday, she tried to escape. But, she says, there was shooting from Israeli forces as they walked from the building despite the fact that members of the group were waving white flags and shouting in Hebrew: "Kattan, Kattan [We have kids]." One of the men, Iyad, was shot in the leg by soldiers. "They ordered us to keep moving and not take the wounded man," she recalls. It was not until three days later that his body was recovered and brought to the hospital......"

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