Saturday, January 10, 2009

'Dogs were eating them'

Video, The Guardian: 
Rafah Razed

The Guardian: One of the most compelling accounts of the Zeitoun killings comes from Meysa Samouni, 19. She told the Israeli human rights group B'Teselem that she and 13 others from her family were ordered at gunpoint out of their home at 9am on Sunday morning by Israeli soldiers who eventually took them to join others in a concrete warehouse. Around 70 neighbours and relatives were in the building, without food or drink.

At around 6am on Monday, she said, four of the men left to bring other relatives to the shelter. 'The moment they left the house, a missile or shell hit them,' she said. One was killed instantly, the others were injured.

'My husband went over to them to help and then a shell or missile was fired on to the roof of the warehouse,' she said. She believed from the size of the strike that it was a bomb dropped by a fighter jet.

'When the missile struck, I lay down with my daughter under me. Everything filled up with smoke and dust and I heard screams and crying.' She said 20 to 30 people were killed -- among them her husband, Tawfiq, 21, and both her husband's parents, Rashed, 41, and Rabab, 38. Another 20 were injured, some severely. A piece of shrapnel had sliced off the thumb and two fingers from the left hand of her nine-month-old daughter, Jumana.

Eventually, after two of the men with her were detained and blindfolded by soldiers, she and her daughter made it to hospital. 'As far as I know, the dead and wounded who were under the ruins are still there,' she said.

Nafaz Samouni, 42, estimated there were around 50 people in the house. 'When the shelling started more than half of the people in the house were killed,' he said from al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City, where we was recovering from leg wounds. 'Some were decapitated. My cousin and his son died in front of me.' His son Ahmad, 12, was shot in the arm and the chest -- doctors said the bullet hit his heart. The boy was due to be transferred to hospital in Egypt.

But Nafaz Samouni could not leave the house until medics from the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived on Wednesday afternoon, when Israel for the first time paused its fighting for over three hours to allow in desperately needed aid. 'We spent four days without food. We had just a kerosene lamp and very little water.' he said. 'As we left we saw dead bodies around us. Dogs were eating them.'
Image: Members of the Samouni family at the burial of their relatives