Written by Moushira Jamal Photographs: Moushira Jamal Edited by Vanessa Beeley
The adrenaline is pumping
There is no easy way of getting to Rafah, the radio is telling us that more cars have been attacked and my mind is focused on survival. We make it in one piece.
Doaa Younis, 17 years old, a student from Rafah City. “ During the bombing we think only of survival then when our bodies are buried under rubble we wonder if this is Paradise, our bodies smashed under dust and rubble”
This is not a way of explaining the massacre its her way of telling us she never expected to survive.
Doaa’s face reflects her confrontation with Death but she smiles to begin her story.
“I woke up because of a massive explosion, not just one, many, one after the other. I felt like I was living a horror movie”
At 2.30am the Israeli Forces attacked the Kolab family home in the El Soltan neighbourhood, west of Rafah. F16s bombed the four storey building leveling it to the ground. Three Hamas leaders were killed in this attack but a further 10 civilians were killed and 49 injured including 20 children and 14 women. The missile also damaged another 5 buildings and affected at least 6 other families living in these adjacent buildings.
Doaa’s mother Fathia Younis, 50 years old, wept quietly when she told us that her uncle Hassan Younis, 75, and his wife Aamal, 53 also died. She said “this neighbourhood is the calmest in Rafah, we never expected this, it’s a war crime, why would they cause us this pain? They could have killed their target without killing innocent civilians”
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the killing of civilians in Rafah in its press release of the 21st August 2014. They say that Israeli Occupation Forces escalated their attacks on the Gaza Strip especially direct attacks on civilian homes. Also Al Mezan notes that many of the IOF attacks used excessively heavy bombs and missiles that increased the radius of destruction and significantly raised the death toll among civilians in the targeted areas.
This type of attacks represents flagrant violation of the principle of proportionality, which applies to every single armed attack. Disproportionate armed attacks are grave breaches of international humanitarian law that amount to war crimes and must be investigated and prosecuted.
Eyewitness Ayoub Kassab, 23, describes the damage as worse than an earthquake “ I was breathing sand and when I tried to get close to the building, stone was flying everywhere, more than 9 missiles hit the area. We started to help a neighbor because we thought that no family would survive this attack. The people started to evacuate the injured, working by the light of mobile phones, someone said putting the fire out was like fighting a dragon”
Doaa is still trying to understand why she had to go through this experience “ the neighbourhood has been torn apart, many of the wounded will be disabled for the rest of their lives. Their life will never get better, our life will never get better, we will never heal”
“This was not the first massacre in Gaza nor will it be the last in a continuous series of Israeli massacres of Gaza civilians. Children’s childhood has been overshadowed by terror, they are forced to become adults at such a young age. All homes are a target. Everyone is threatened, nobody is safe. “
These are the thoughts of Doaa Younis, a 17 year old girl who escaped death to live in the Hell that is Gaza. She is constantly worried about neighbours who have lost family members under the rubble of their dreams or who have relatives critically injured in hospital. This is life for a 17 year old girl in Gaza.