The story of Al Samouni’s family of Gaza is tragic and appalling. The story began on Saturday, 3 January 2009, with Israeli incursion into and firing at the Al Zaytoun neighborhood.
The following day, on 4 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed the same area killing one Palestinian.
On Monday at 7:00 Am, 5 January 2009, again Israeli forces bombed the very same area of Hay (neighborhood) Al Zaytoun. One of the missiles struck the third floor of Tallal Hilmi Al Samouni’s home. Traumatized, the family nonetheless managed to extinguish the fire. Earlier the 16-member family—including the grandfather, grandmother, their children and families—had evacuated into the first floor in fear of the bombs that were striking Gaza.
As the situation deteriorated and the shelling intensified, three additional Al Samouni families sought refuge in Tallal’s home. The families included: Ibrahim Al Samouni (12 members), Rashad Al Samouni (11 members), and Nafiz Al Samouni (10 members). Altogether 49 members of Al Samouni’s family gathered at Tallal’s house.
Later on Monday, the Israeli forces knocked on the door of Tallal’s home and asked the congregated family members to move to Wael Al Samouni’s home (11 members). The Israeli forces also asked the men to lift their shirts on their way out (a dehumanizing gesture across all cultures), then surrounded Wael’s home and left the 60 members of Al Samouni family without water for 24 hours. As for electricity, it has been cut off entirely in the strip since Israel’s bombardment began on 27 December 2009.
The next day, 6 January 2009, the family heard shooting nearby, followed by calm. Some thought that the Israeli occupying forces had withdrawn from the neighborhood, and so one of the men left the front door to bring water from a tank placed in front of the house for the children, who were thirsty. To his surprise, the Israeli occupying forces and their tanks were still surrounding the house, which made him immediately turn back inside.
Five minutes later, the tanks shelled a missile into the house and injured seven people. Only three minutes later the Israelis aimed another missile close by, which killed many Al Samouni family members—predominantly children and women.
About 22 of the survivors, many of whom were injured, left the house raising white banners and carrying four bodies of those killed. The Israeli forces began shooting around them, but they continued to walk, and tried to call the ambulance to pick them up and save the injured among them. But the Israeli forces informed them that they have banned emergency services from reaching the area. Indeed, Israeli soldiers, with their heavy weaponry, vehemently prevented medics and ambulances, including the Red Cross, from entering. However, at a crossroad about a kilometer and a half further on, an ambulance managed to collect the injured.
Back at the house, where the dead bodies of Palestinians lay, there were thirteen family members who were still alive. Eight of them were children, some of them injured, who had been locked in for three days with the bodies of their dead parents and family members, with no access to food or water.
The Red Cross was only allowed entry three days later to evacuate the dead and injured, the majority of whom were so critical that they were taken to Belgium, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia for treatment.
Overall, 48 members of Al Samouni family were killed – We are trying to raise money for this family and for the local community in their area- please help us raise money and reach the goal of building a school/commuity centre in their name – Thank you!
(Facebook / 23.06.2011)