Monday, January 12, 2009
13:39 Mecca time, 10:39 GMT      
News Middle East
Shelled family recounts Gaza horror

Ahmed Samouni just about survived the shelling of their Zeitoun home,
but lost his mother and four brothers

The United Nations human rights council is considering a draft resolution on 
the treatment of civilians in Gaza by the Israeli army.

A number of allegations have been made about the use of white phosphorus and 
the treatment of the Palestinian population as the Israeli offensive against 
Hamas continues.

In the second week of the offensive, the International Committe for the Red 
Cross alleged that the Israeli army had refused to let them help a family 
trapped in a shelled house.

They said it took four days to get access to the building, even though army 
units were stationed nearby and did nothing to help the injured inside.

When paramedics were granted access, they say what they found was shocking: 
starving children were sitting beside the bodies of their dead parents and 

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros has gained exclusive access to the survivors and 
their rescuers.

Ahmed Samouni witnessed what many are calling a massacre, after being left for 
days amidst the dead bodies of his mother and four brothers.

The horror that the 16-year-old has seen is hard for him to put into words, but 
the effects are written all over his face.

"It was the third missile I remember. The other ones had killed my elder 
brother and injured people, they kept bleeding. But the third missile, that 
killed them all," he said.

"My brother was bleeding so much and right in front of my eyes he died. My 
other brother Ismail, he also bled to death," he narrated in between sobs.

"My mum and my youngest brother, they are gone. Four brothers and my mother, 
dead. May God give them peace."

On January 7, paramedics brought back the dead and injured from the Samouni and 
other houses nearby, after they had spent four days trapped in their home.

'Israeli shelling'

According to the survivors' accounts, partly corroborated by the International 
Red Cross and the United Nations, Israeli soldiers raided their homes and then 
huddled the extended family together into one house.

The following day they shelled and dropped missiles around the house.

Abdullah was found in the house surrounded
by his dead uncles and cousins
Witnesses say at least 30 members of the Samouni family were killed.

"We were put in an ambulance, but there were still people inside the house, 
dead and injured," Ahmed told Al Jazeera. "For days we all bled. We were so 
hungry; I remember giving my brother Isaac a tomato to eat before he died."

Al Jazeera tracked down the ambulance driver who rescued Ahmed. The Red Cross 
were denied access by the Israeli army to the area for four days after the 
house was shelled.

"On the day we got permission, the army told us to leave the ambulances around 
two kilometres from the house," said Mohamed el-Halby, a paramedic. "So we 
walked and all around us we could see they had bulldozered the area. The houses 
we passed had Israeli soldiers standing on the roofs."

"We went inside and heard screams coming from one room. There were about 15 
people inside, two were dead, the rest sitting around them. That was just one 

Six year-old Abdullah was trapped inside the same house as Ahmed, surrounded by 
his dead cousins and uncles. Terrified and distraught he struggled to speak.

He said they only had tomoatoes to eat, and when asked what happened to his 
family, he said they were there, in front of him, dead. All he could do was 
just look at them.

Wael, Abdullah's father, escaped on the first day of the Israeli raid. For four 
days he thought his son was dead.

"I didn't know what to do, I still don't...look at him he is so ill, they are 
all terrified," Weal said.

"He cries all the time. His shoulder is hurt and it has infection but he cant 
stand the smell, he cries when he looks and smells his wounds. And his leg, 
look. I want to take him out of Gaza for treatment and I want to be able to go 
back to the house and get the rest of my family so that I can bury them."

Al Jazeera tried to get to the family's house, in an area called Zeitoun, but 
it wasn't safe.

The closest one could get was about one kilometre away, and journalists, 
paramedics and aid workers need Israeli army permission to get to the area.

'War crimes'

Zeitoun is only one neighbourhood where Israeli ground forces are operating.

The Red Cross says there are many more homes in other areas with people dead 
and trapped inside.

Wael, Abdullah's father, escaped on the
first day of the Iraeli raid
Raed el-Heleky, another paramedic who took part in the rescue effort, said he 
could smell dead bodies and blood in the area.

"We saw people lying dead on the streets," he told Al Jazeera. "More than nine 
along the way before we got to the houses. We only went into five homes, there 
are other homes in the area and I am sure there are more dead in these houses. 
But the Israeli army stopped us from going any further."

The United Nations says the Samouni family's story appears to have all the 
elements of war crimes.

Humanitarian organisations have asked for an investigation, but while these 
processes get under way, Israel is denying access to the areas worst effected 
by its ongoing war.

Aid workers fear Abdullah and Ahmed's stories may well be just the beginning of 
what Israel has done, and continues to do to the people of Gaza.
 Source:     Al Jazeera

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