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Gaza: Witness to a Massacre

Updated on July 22, 2014


Wael Samouni, 32, vegetable stall holder: "We were sitting and suddenly there was bombing on our house and everyone started to run. There were three rockets. I have no idea where they came from. I looked to my side, took hold of my boy Mohammad and I started to run. As I ran I looked back and saw on the floor my mother, two cousins and three of my children. All dead. It's a massacre. I'm 32 years old and I've never seen such things as this. I couldn't help myself or any of those around me. We just want to live in peace."

Nael Samouni, 36. His wife and daughter had been in Wael's house at the time of the shelling. Both were killed: "I wanted to go and join them the night before, but it was too dangerous to go out. If anyone moved he would be shot. Then when I heard the bombing this morning I saw people running. I saw an injured man fall to the ground. I ran to help, but there was an Israeli sniper in the house next door who shouted: 'Leave him alone.' We couldn't rescue anyone."

Ahmed Samouni, 16: “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. My brother was bleeding so much and right in front of my eyes he died. My other brother Ismail, he also bled to death. My mum and my youngest brother, they are gone. Four brothers and my mother, dead. May God give them peace."

Mohamed el-Halby, a paramedic: “On the day we got permission to rescue them, the army told us to leave the ambulances around two kilometres from the house. So we walked and all around us we could see they had bulldozed 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 room.”

Raed el-Heleky, paramedic: ”We saw people lying dead on the streets. 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.”

Mohammed Shaheen, a volunteer with Palestinian Red Crescent: "Inside the Samouni house I saw about ten bodies and outside another sixty. I was not able to count them accurately because there was not much time and we were looking for wounded people. We found fifteen people still alive but injured so we took them in the ambulances. I could see an Israeli army bulldozer knocking down houses nearby but we ran out of time and the Israeli soldiers started shooting at us. We had to leave about eight injured people behind because we could not get to them and it was no longer safe for us to stay.'

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

Ahmed Ibrahim Samouni, 13, who was wounded in the leg: "Abu Salah died, his wife died. Abu Tawfiq died, his son died, his wife also died. Mohammed Ibrahim died, and his mother died. Ishaq died and Nasar died. The wife of Nael Samouni died. Many people died. There were maybe more than 25 people killed.”

Ahmad al-Samouni, 23 religious studies teacher: “"One shell hit the door, killing my cousin Muhammad immediately. One shell, I believe it was from an Apache, hit the ceiling. Then another shell and another. I could only recognise my mother Rahmeh from her clothes and earrings because part of her head was gone.”


One of the infants was the five-year-old daughter of his cousin Salah. "Her last words were 'Baba, Baba' and she died. She was hit in the head.”

Maysaa, 19, a mother: “When the smoke began to clear, I looked around and saw between 20 and 30 bodies, and 20 wounded. The dead included my husband Tawfiq and my 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.”

Maysaa says she escaped with her daughter and brother-in-law to the house of an uncle. There she found at least 40 Israeli soldiers and about 30 Palestinians. Some of them were blindfolded. The soldiers administered first aid to Maysaa and her daughter before releasing them, but, she says, said they would keep Musa and his uncle "in case Hamas came". She adds: "I understood that they intended to use them as human shields."

Wael Samouni, later, in the hospital, talking about his 6 year old son, Abdullah, who survived. Wael had thought he was dead: “I didn’t know what to do, I still don’t…look at him he is so ill, they are all terrified. He cries all the time. His shoulder is hurt and it has infection but he can’t 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.”

The Israeli military denies targeting any buildings in the area and says it never forcibly gathers civilians in a specific building. It investigated the incident but no soldiers were ever prosecuted.

Compiled from interviews conducted by The Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent and Al Jazeera.


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    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      No: may Israel find the good sense and the decency to join the human race.

    • profile image

      sophia 7 years ago

      May Allah destroy Israel!

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Storytellersrus, the latest I've heard is that the BBC are not allowing the Disasters Emergency Committee to advertise on the TV for fear that it will make them look biased towards the Palestinians. I'd suggest that the Israel lobby have had a hand in this.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 9 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      CJ, the cruelty continues. I heard yesterday- BBC via National Public Radio- that Israelis will not allow humanitarian aide groups like Save the Children from entering into Gaza for fear that Hamas will benefit from their efforts. "Gaza's devastation has not only been caused by the recent three-week conflict. Humanitarian aid organizations have been denied access to the Gaza Strip since Nov. 4, 2008, and this is utterly impeding our ability to respond to the humanitarian disaster we are faced with today," said Martha Myers.

      I cannot understand how anyone can call this something other than a massacre considering that 13 Israelis have been killed compared to 150 to 1330 Palestinians, depending on who you believe and that 1855 children have been injured in Gaza and up to 5300 Palestinians total.

      "In the days following the ceasefire, the BBC reported that more than 400,000 Gazans were left without running water. As a result of the bombings, 4,000 Gazan buildings were razed and 20,000 severely damaged, more than 50,800 Gazans were left homeless."

      Certainly Gazan civilians are desperately in need of immediate aide.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Peggy, this is precisely the problem, that our media are not showing us these pictures so people are not being made aware. On the other hand, I took the trouble to find them, and to find out what is happening for myself, so in some ways people are volunteering for their own premature euthanasia of the soul, preferring the X-Factor and other such daily distractions to the truth of our current world....

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Such powerful and sickening pictures. If more of them were televised nightly, this would bring the REAL HORROR into more people's living rooms and perhaps open their eyes and ears to what is really happening. Perhaps that would lead to an end of this daily tragedy of killing more quickly than anything else.

      Remember all the photos of starving children in Africa with the flies sitting on their faces? Sometimes photos are more powerful than words!

      That being said.........keep combining your photos with your POWERFUL words and wake more people up from their slumber!

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      EYEAM4ANARCHY, I agree.

    • EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

      Kelly W. Patterson 9 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

      The rationalization that Israel was "forced" to defend itself against the unruly neighbors doesn't quite hold up since the Israelis were the first ones to violate the cease fire, after which the Palestinians retaliated with the rockets that supposedly justified the invasion.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      CW, I understand.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      -Hey CJ. Because of recent injuries and the resulting trauma, I was totally unable to read this story or look at the photos... I can't really fully explain it. But, I wanted you to know that I stopped by and tried.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      You see ReuVera, this is the kind of obscene racism which reveals the Israelis for what they are. How dare Golda Meir say the Arabs don't love their own children? That's like an accusation of being sub-human, the sort of words that Nazis employed to describe Jews. And as for the testimonies of Israelis: yes it's true that many people are suffering in this conflict on both sides. It's the degree of suffering, by women and children and old people, disproportinately on one side, which is what characterises this particular massacre. Over 300 children killed, over 1,400 wounded. How dare the Israelis say the Palestinians caused this, especially when some of the children have been found to have bullet wounds to the head, which shows that Israeli soldiers have been taking pot-shots at them? Read this:

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 9 years ago from USA

      Well, you know what, Misha, I think I’d better tell you that I love you. There’s lots of difference between you and me. I never drive when I drink, this is one of them :)

      I love you.

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 9 years ago from USA

      I will never kill anybody and you will never kill. You might kill if you aim to somebody who killed your kid, but he puts his kid in front of him.

      I don’t defend anybody’s right to kill, don’t twist my words, Misha.

      Before saying “you have this blood on your hands. For the rest of your life”, you’d better think twice or more times, Misha.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

      'We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children'

      Nobody can force me to kill children Vera. No matter what their parents do.

      This is the difference between you and me.

      As long as you keep defending Israel's right to do this, you have this blood on your hands. For the rest of your life...

    • ReuVera profile image

      ReuVera 9 years ago from USA

      Very disturbing pictures and heart breaking testimonies. If one takes an effort one can compose the same hub with the difference that Israeli victims will be telling their stories. It will be endless. I can give a link here to another hub, pro-Israel. Don’t you think that this way it will never end, like in a quarrel of two house wives? Each will find something to answer back.

      Being a blind supporter or a blind accuser is the same.

      As Golda Meir said once, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

      These pictures are awful: … .jpgbzbmxr … rifles.jpg … azi%20kids

    • Melissa G profile image

      Melissa G 9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      Thank you for showing us a side of this genocide that many media outlets have failed to cover, CJ. All of this senseless killing over twisted ideologies. Notions of how the world is and should be--how can anyone look at the photos of mutilated, empty vessels that once held a soul and think that Israel is somehow justified in committing these atrocities? It makes me sick to think of all this waste, all this destruction, all this pain... and for what?

      Where is the sense of humanity in all this? And what has it been traded for?

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 9 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      CJ, and anyone, Because of my job, I see a great deal of the raw footage that comes from Gaza. The people who still insist that Hamas are manipulating the media to make Israel look bad should be made to view some of this unbroadcast material. Even Jazeera are not showing it all, out of consideration for viewers. This is carnage. Foul carnage. There is no possible excuse for Israel's ongoing atrocities.

    • profile image

      ColdWarBaby 9 years ago

      CJ, you're right. Regardless of any nit-picking over semantics. This is NOT a war. It's genocide.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      The following was translated and posted by my friend Dave from Vienna. Unfortunately it was riddled with code which was distracting, so I'm posting it again here:

      By Professor Rolf Verleger, Lubeck University, since 2006 delegate to the Central Council of Jews in Germany

      What would you do? wrote the Israeli historian Fania Oz-Salzberger in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 31. 12. if your neighbour constantly threw stones and Molotov cocktails at your house? Wouldn’t you at some time pick up a gun to put an end to this? And if your neighbour surrounded himself with his children so you couldn’t hit him, wouldn’t you then sometime take a gun with telescopic sights? Hamas in Gaza is behaving just like this neighbour when they attack the Israeli state with their rockets. So the present war against Gaza is a just war.

      I am very grateful to Ms Oz-Salzberger for this example of the neighbours. Because one can clarify a great deal from it. Lets take the simplicity of her family so terrorised by the neighbours and look at the behaviour in the block of flats. The neighbour’s house is Gaza

      1) Three years ago you took away your neighbour’s key

      Without your permission as owner of the house the neighbour’s family cannot leave their house, either to work, to study, to travel or to go shopping. Without your agreement as owner of the house, the neighbour does not get any post, nothing to eat, no electricity, no gas, no visitors: the house is cut off. You, as owner have the key, and the evil, evil neighbour is cut off. And since 2006, for almost three years. Then the evil, evil neighbour got angry.

      The mistake the evil, evil neighbour and his friends in the other block of flats made was to vote for the wrong party.

      But you were so nice to the neighbour that four years ago you voluntarily moved out of his balcony with the view of the sea, which you had previously taken away from him. However, naturally you didn’t deign to give him a look or a word when you were moving out. You demolished the furniture on the balcony. Where do we get when we don’t talk to our neighbours? So the evil, evil neighbour got angry.

      2) Two years ago you sent a gang of thugs to visit your neighbour

      In 2007, you and your North American friends from the house-owners’ association stationed a gang of thugs in the neighbour’s house, the Mohamed-Dahan gang. They were supposed to take the house off the evil, evil neighbour. Nastily, the neighbour defended himself against this putsch. You were really pissed off about that. Afterwards you attempted to explain to everyone that the evil, evil neighbour had violently taken over power in his house for no reason at all and was not justified in doing so. You were surprised yourself how many journalists believed this.

      3) you did not give the neighbour the right running costs for the house

      For years, the customs and duties due to the autonomous authority for the house were not paid.

      4) you have already killed many people in the neighbour’s house

      This was in 2006. There were hundreds of dead. This was one of the triggers for the Lebanon war, in which Hizbollah wanted to take revenge on Israel for these crimes.

      5) You have long since taken the neighbour’s car away.

      The neighbour once had an airport, built with EU funds. You destroyed it. Evil neighbours don’t need airports. So the evil, evil neighbour got angry.

      6) You took the neighbour’s work away

      Once the neighbour went fishing. You forbade him that. Once he had factories. In 2006 you bombed them. Once he had agriculture. You ruined it by banning exports. The evil, evil neighbour, who only wants to shoot, should not fish, not work, not work the land: the evil, evil neighbour should shoot at you so that you can shoot back. He did that too.

      7) Courts ruled in favour of the evil neighbour

      Many experts in neighbourly law, such as Amnesty International, UN experts and Nobel prize winners have clearly said that your behaviour as house owner with regard to your neighbour is against the law. Luckily these people do not have any police to enforce the law. “How many divisions has the Pope” said Stalin. Then the evil, evil neighbour got angry.

      8) For years you have been driving the neighbour’s friends out of their houses.

      Unfortunately the evil neighbour still has mobile phones and telephones. So every day he hears how friends and relations of the evil neighbour who live in the flats in the West Bank are driven out of their homes. An essential part of this is the wall that you have built through the middle of the block of flats. Because you didn’t build this wall, which is supposed to be for your protection, around your house, but straight through the middle of the house of these friends. Why do they need two rooms? One is enough. Their friends can live in the other one. And the fact that they have to go through security controls before they can go from their living room to the bathroom, so what? Life is terrible in the waiting room. And anyone who demonstrates peacefully against it in Germany gets the Ossietzky prize, but at home tear gas, and if he’s unlucky, in self-defence he will be shot.

      9) 60 years ago your stole your neighbour’s house

      A long time ago your neighbour’s grandfather owned the whole house. Then your grandparents came to the house in desperation, persecuted, it was a good haven from the storm. Soon you built a house in the yard. OK, the yard didn’t belong to anyone because the others could no longer go from one house to the other. Well they are only Arabs. Occasionally a few humanitarian idiots came by, Achad ha’Am, Barinn Buber, Hannah Arendt, and there were a few more, who said we should live in friendship with the house owners, but, for Marx’s sake, these Arabs were too primitive to build socialism. You can’t be friends with such yokels. And later, when Marx was not in fashion any more, one said, thank God these Arabs have the wrong religion, what are they doing here in the holy land? Aren’t there are enough houses around here? They should go there. And then, from 1947, your parents took most of the houses from the parents of the evil, evil neighbour, when they fled in terror from the armed terror of your parents. And now many descendants of these people live in a house on the most densely populated bit of the earth; in Gaza. Well, OK, why is so densely populated? Then the evil, evil neighbour got angry.

      And so the German Chancellor and Mrs Professor Oz-Salzburger said, the evil, evil neighbour is solely responsible for this war.

      10) Postscript

      When the first Jewish Zionists came to present-day Israel in 1890 they were fleeing discrimination in the Tsarist empire, arson and murder in pogroms, in search of a free, independent life that was not possible for them in their old country. This was not a conflict of good against bad, but an argument over a piece of land, which was the homeland of the Palestinian Arabs and seemed to be the only possible homeland to the incomers

      The Jewish side won this argument at the price of constant war. However, the peace plan had long been on the table. This consisted in the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, in an amicable settlement of the problem of Palestinian refugees, in an amicable settlement over Jerusalem. The member states of the Arab league proposed this to Israel in 2002 and have recently confirmed it again. Israel does not agree, because Israel cannot decide whether it prefers to keep and extend the illegally occupied land in the West Bank. As long as Israel does not say, yes, we prefer peace, we will give up the occupation regime, there will be no peace.

      Germany’s position in this conflict is ambiguous. But can the fact that we European Jews were victims of a great crime carried out by Germany give the Jewish state the right to do wrong to another people? Do German politicians really believe that it is a recompense for the murder of my Jewish relations that Israel can do anything it wants? Quite the opposite – it would do Israel a power of good if it were to be taken out of its fantasy of being the eternal victim and like every other state be embedded in the system of international law. That means, t

    • SiddSingh profile image

      SiddSingh 9 years ago

      CJ, I agree with almost everything you said, except the one about war. A war is not always fought between armies. I should know, since India has been fighting a "proxy" war for last two decades! Maybe, it will form an idea of a separate hub altogether!

      How do you fight an enemy who does not show up in the battlefield, does not follow the rules of engagement, is very, very motivated, is almost maniacal in its commitment to your destruction. And the worst part is, you are fighting your battle alone, no one else really appreciates that you have lost more innocent and uniformed men than any "regular" war ever!

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 9 years ago from Washington, USA

      CJS- Very Sad and especially when we put a name to the face we see in the pictures it becomes even more personally touching. You have done a great job. I was wondering about the UN building also being bombed which makes me sad for those peace keepers who are over there for the cause of peace are also paying the ultimate price with their lives.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 9 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I thought of you today when National Public Radio aired a report of a Red Cross building bombed and a UN Safe House filled with evacuees... as well as several hospitals. Thanks for keeping us alert to these news reports.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Very sad, so very sad, hopefully you got the message across for everyone!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thank you so much for posting this powerful piece of journalism. In the stories of these innocent citizen victims, we see/hear the stories of those who have been caught in violent ideological crossfires over the centuries. It doesn't matter what the conflict is over or who the aggressor is -- it's really all the same. The senseless carnage is universal and heartbreaking.

      Personally, I am ashamed of my country's role in this.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      This is excellent Chris, precisely because it is so hard to read and look at. You've done a very difficult thing successfully here--made this horror real and personal and about human bodies with names. I do feel overwhelmed by it. So many things are going through my head, all at once. You are really quite gifted at making the political personal. So often people write the other direction.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      pylos26, the barcode number of Israeli goods starts with the numbers 729.... maybe if we all stopped buying Israeli goods? And yes, pressure on the US and other (including UK) govts would make a difference. Collective action got rid of apartheid all those years ago: now lets get rid of this vile Israeli racism...

    • pylos26 profile image

      pylos26 9 years ago from America

      I believe one positive step in discourging the Israeli massacre in Gaza would be to throttle down U.S. aid to the perpetrators.

    • profile image

      sandra rinck 9 years ago

      lol CJ, I know God didn't have anything to do with it. :)

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Hi Sandra, don't know if God has anything to do with this. It's us humans who are doing these things. Mind you, I think our prayers might go to a good place in the end. As for what they're doing to the children of Gaza, Amanda, I think this affacts us all on a really deep level too.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 9 years ago from West By God

      CJ, I just am speachless with what you say to me. I am different and I always have been. I see things differently then everyone else.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK


      What are these people doing to Gaza? It's totally mad. No matter the race, colour or creed, we're all human beings. It's too sad that the Israelis think they have the right to rain terror on these innocents. It's beyond words.

    • profile image

      sandra rinck 9 years ago

      I am so sad right now, I don't have much to say but GOD IF YOU ARE LISTENING, PLEASE HELP! Amen.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Hi Lady G: you do it to me every time. You say something so profound and so real it really sets me thinking. "When we die we take nothing with us---absolutely nothing -no religion, no God, no land, no politcal affiliation or church or even a friend or family member or even our pets---it is just us individually". True, true, and more true. If only we all saw things that clearly all the time...

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 9 years ago from West By God

      CJ, another one of your greats! All this over what--land, religion, differences in politics? It's all very stupid and we all need to get out of the 2 year old thinking ---mine, mine, mine and you can't have it unless you have a special something. When we die we take nothing with us---absolutely nothing -no religion, no God, no land, no politcal affiliation or church or even a friend or family member or even our pets---it is just us individually. So why the sensless killings for what?

      I couldn't even read all of this hub because just the first paragraph in each person's story made me sick to my stomach.

      All those who wish to only convert need to STOP LOOK and LISTEN to what they are creating and it isn't Satan doing it--Self Responsibility is all we have here on this Earth--period.

      Sorry off my soapbox for now. It's just so much jealousy and selfishness over things that don't even really matter in the end.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Thanks robie. Hopefully this might make a bit of difference.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 9 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Thanks, CJ-- this is wonderful-- you put names and faces on the victims of gaza which really brings it home that we are all part of the same human family It is so awful that everywhere-- from Africa to Afghanistan to iraq to Gaza, the look of human suffering and death is always the same. Each side demonizes the other in order to justify itself but in the end we are all losers. All those dead babies are our babies. May God help us all.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Thanks Christoph. I've put this as a link to my other Hub on the same subject "This Is Not A War It's A Massacre", where I've mentioned this story. I think this is where the real human tragedy can be felt, in the real life stories of real people, rather than in the grand rhetoric of the politicians. I only hope it ends soon, but after that the world as a whole has to rise up and confront this evil, to stand up and with one voice say "No! No more!"

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      It is always much more telling to hear the story through the eyes of the participants rather than an outside observer. The "real" story--in this case, the actual words of the survivors--tells the tale with more feeling and emotion than a non-participant could ever hope to.

      As always, you cause the mind to think on events that we often find all to easy to ignore. Thank you.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      SiddSingh, this is not a war. A war is where two armies meet in the field of battle. There is only one army, and that's the Israeli army, and it is massacring women and children who are without shelter or anywhere to run. Gaza is a prison and the Isaeli army is killing its prisoners, punishing the Palestinian people for having elected the wrong government.

    • SiddSingh profile image

      SiddSingh 9 years ago

      Disturbing hub, with disturbing pictures.

      The tragedy about any war is that the innocent are the worst sufferers. These people, who may be miles away from any underlying ideology or justification, are killed and maimed when they were just going on with their lives, or just minding their own business.