#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Louh Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

I will meet my fate
Al-Louh Family, Deir al-Balah
8 people killed
August 20, 2014

Buseina put the kettle on the stove. Every day she got up before the morning prayer to make tea. Steam was rising and the aroma of boiling mint escaped the teapot. Buseina’s husband Mustafa emerged from the bathroom and came into the kitchen. Phones barely worked, the network was down. Electricity was scarce, but the radio could run on batteries and could therefore always be relied on those days. “What’s the news?” he asked. “They hit the house of the al-Dalu family,” she answered. The strike was meant for one of the top military commanders of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, or so the Israeli army claimed. Instead, the Israeli pilot killed Deif’s wife and his seven-month-old son, along with a 48-year-old woman and her two sons. Fifteen people were injured.

Both Buseina and Mustafa held on to their usual daily habits throughout the Israeli offensive. Buseina would get up before the morning prayer to make tea, and Mustafa would join her in the kitchen soon after.
Both Buseina and Mustafa held on to their usual daily habits throughout the Israeli offensive. Buseina would get up before the morning prayer to make tea, and Mustafa would join her in the kitchen soon after.

Since the beginning of the war, Mustafa al-Louh, a tall, slender 61-year-old man, had been sleeping in a small shed wedged between two houses. On one side was the house of Mustafa’s son Rafat and his family. On the other side lived Mustafa’s wife and their kids. A five day ceasefire had just finished the day before. Mustafa felt the war’s end was nearing. When the muezzin of Deir al-Balah called, he got up. He usually woke up before the call to prayer, a habit established over the decades since his youth. But after weeks of sleepless nights, stress and fear, he was just too exhausted.

Down a sandy road, in a nearby house about 50 meters away, his 19-year-old niece, Iman, also got up to pray. She too struggled with waking up on time. Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university. Iman had been considering theology. She got out of bed after the call to prayer had ended, and her sisters had already finished with fajar – the prayer at dawn. Her mother, who woke up earlier, turned on the radio. The latest news was the bombing of the al-Dalu home.

Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university.
Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university.

Ahmed, Mustafa’s son from another marriage, had stayed over at Rafat’s place. They had to go to work early in the morning. At 6 am, they would have to be on their way to the market in Khan Yunis to buy watermelons and bring them back to Deir al-Balah. The entire summer, every day of the war, the half-brothers travelled on the Salah al-Din road spanning the length of the Gaza Strip. Most days, the road would be nearly deserted. It was risky to drive there. Once back in Deir al-Balah, Rafat and Ahmed would load the watermelons onto a cart and push it through the sandy streets, announcing their arrival through a loudspeaker.

Rafat was an employee of the Palestinian Authority. Like thousands of other people in the Gaza Strip employed by the Palestinian government seated in Ramallah in the West Bank, he stopped going to work in 2007, when Hamas won the parliamentary election and came to power in Gaza. They all kept their modest salaries, not enough for Rafat to feed his family, though. He had three little kids. Two boys: the eldest 10-year-old Mustafa, named traditionally after his grandfather, Maysara, 7, and a daughter Farah, 6. His wife Nabila was pregnant. Rafat was forced to take out a loan. Mustafa, their father, was worried. He asked Ahmed and Rafat not to go to Khan Yunis, but his grown-up sons, one with a family of his own, would not listen. They had never been targeted on the road. Anyways, calculating what would be more risky – staying at home or driving around – had become impossible in Gaza during that time.

Rafat, Mustafa's son, had three little kids. Two boys, the eldest ten-year-old Mustafa, named traditionally after his grandfather, Maysara, seven years old, and a daughter named Farah, six years old. His wife Nabila was pregnant at the time of the attack. The photo of 10-year-old Mustafa is missing.
Rafat, Mustafa’s son, had three little kids. Two boys, the eldest ten-year-old Mustafa, named traditionally after his grandfather, Maysara, seven years old, and a daughter named Farah, six years old. His wife Nabila was pregnant at the time of the attack. The photo of 10-year-old Mustafa is missing.

Mohammed, Rafat’s younger brother, often helped them with selling watermelons. He even saved up some money working over the summer. But the closure of the Gaza Strip left him feeling suffocated. Sometimes, it seemed he had given up. He had refused to get married. He kept saying it did not make sense, because he would die anyway. Walaa’, his twin sister, did get married. It was the first time their paths in life split. Walaa’ moved out to start a life with her husband and Mohammed stayed at home. As is the case for nearly half of Gaza’s population, most of the time he was unemployed. He passed his days walking around the neighborhood. Walaa’ often looked out the window to find her twin brother down in the street. She used to shout to him: “Come upstairs, let’s drink some coffee!” “You know I am too lazy to climb up to the third floor,” he would answer. She used to smile at this little ritual of theirs and go downstairs to sit with her brother in the backyard.

With the money he saved up selling watermelons, Mohammed had bought a new bed and wardrobe for his room. Throughout the entire war he had slept on a mattress in the corridor of their house – a strategic location, furthest away from the windows and from other houses that were possible targets. His mother Buseina and his two siblings Wafaa’ and Momen slept there too. After the ceasefire, he lost his patience and insisted on trying out his new bed. Just before going to sleep, his mother pleaded with him to stay with them in the corridor. “I will meet my fate, whatever it is. I want to die,” he said and went to his room.

THE MORNING OF THE BOMBING

Iman got up to pray a bit late. She was standing in the middle of the bedroom, while her sisters sat around her. The electricity was off and they could barely see each other. Mustafa and Buseina were talking in the kitchen about the al-Dalu family’s fate. Mohammed was enjoying his new bed, sleeping in his room. Momen and Wafaa’ were still asleep, in the corridor, further away from the street and other houses. Ahmed and Rafat were going to make their risky trip of the day in a little while, but for now they were still tired from the hard work and sleeping soundly in the early hours of the morning.

An Israeli pilot dropped a half-ton bomb.

A slab of cement flew through the window into the room where Iman was praying. It missed the head of Iman’s sister by centimeters and flew straight towards her. She died a few days later in a hospital. Mustafa and Buseina survived because they got up early. The shed where Mustafa had been sleeping moments before was a deep hole full of rubble. Seven trucks of sand were not enough to flatten the land again. Mohammed was killed. His bedroom was very close to where the bomb landed, causing a wall to collapse onto him. Momen and Wafaa’ were injured, but alive.

Mustafa in the ruins of his family's bombed homes.
Mustafa in the ruins of his family’s bombed homes.
Seven trucks of sand were not enough to fill the bombed-out crater where Rafat's house once stood.
Seven trucks of sand were not enough to fill the bombed-out crater where Rafat’s house once stood.

“I heard Wafaa' screaming from under the rubble. I could see only her toes moving. I tried to remove the stones that fell on her, but it was too much. Instead, I started to dig beneath her and managed to pull her out. She was wounded in her head, bleeding from her eye. Her arm was also injured. Momen was three meters away from Wafaa'. He was also screaming.” - recalls Mustafa.
“I heard Wafaa’ screaming from under the rubble. I could see only her toes moving. I tried to remove the stones that fell on her, but it was too much. Instead, I started to dig beneath her and managed to pull her out. She was wounded in her head, bleeding from her eye. Her arm was also injured. Momen was three meters away from Wafaa’. He was also screaming.” – recalls Mustafa.

The explosion was so massive that it sent people and chunks of concrete flying in all directions, especially the small kids. Maysara’s body was thrown onto a nearby roof, Mustafa’s to a balcony; Fara fell on a tree in the neighbor’s courtyard, breaking its branches. Everyone in Rafaat’s house, the kids, Nabila, Rafat and Ahmed, was killed. The bomb fell straight on them.

Ibrahim, the smaller of the twin brothers on the photo, says he misses his best friend, seven-year-old Maysara al-Louh. The two boys, Ibrahim and Abdallah, are standing in their destroyed bedroom, in Deir al-Balah, right in front of where the al-Louh family home used to stand. Their bedroom was damaged in the bombing that killed Maysara and seven other members of al-Louh family.
Ibrahim, the smaller of the twin brothers on the photo, says he misses his best friend, seven-year-old Maysara al-Louh. The two boys, Ibrahim and Abdallah, are standing in their destroyed bedroom, in Deir al-Balah, right in front of where the al-Louh family home used to stand. Their bedroom was damaged in the bombing that killed Maysara and seven other members of al-Louh family.

WHOSE MARTYRS?

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Israel’s Everlasting Occupation

Palestinians were never presented with what Israel offered every neighboring country: full withdrawal from occupied territory

NATHAN THRALL, The New York Times, June 2, 2017

An Israeli soldier praying at the Western Wall during the Six-Day War, in June 1967 (Micha Bar Am/Magnum Photos)

JERUSALEM — Three months after the 1967 war, Israel’s ruling Mapai Party held a discussion on the future of the newly conquered territories. Golda Meir, who would become Israel’s leader a year and a half later, asked Prime Minister Levi Eshkol what he planned to do with the more than one million Arabs now living under Israeli rule.

“I get it,” Mr. Eshkol jokingly replied. “You want the dowry, but you don’t like the bride!” Mrs. Meir responded, “My soul yearns for the dowry, and to let someone else take the bride.”

On this 50th anniversary of the war, it is clear that over the half-century that followed, Israel managed to fulfill Mrs. Meir’s wish, keeping control of the land indefinitely without wedding itself to the inhabitants. This resilient and eminently sustainable arrangement, so often mischaracterized as a state of limbo assumed to be temporary, has stood on three main pillars: American backing, Palestinian weakness and Israeli indifference. Together, the three ensure that for the Israeli government, continuing its occupation is far less costly than the concessions required to end it.

Each pillar, in turn, draws support from a core myth promoted by leaders in American, Palestinian or Israeli society. For Americans, the myth that the occupation is unsustainable is a crucial element in maintaining and excusing the United States’ financial and diplomatic abetting of it. From the halls of the State Department to editorials in major newspapers and the pronouncements of pro-peace organizations like J Street, Americans are told that Israel will have to choose, and very soon, to give Palestinians either citizenship or independence, and choose to either remain a democracy or become an apartheid state.

Yet none of these groups calls on the United States to force this supposedly imminent choice, no matter how many times Israel demonstrates that it prefers a different, far easier option — continued occupation — with no real consequences. The only real fallout from continued occupation are major increases in American financing of it, with Israel now receiving more military assistance from the United States than the rest of the world does combined. Mistaking finger-wagging for pressure, these groups spend far too much time on phrasing their criticism of settlements and occupation, and far too little asking what can be done about it.

What supports the fiction that Israel cannot continue subjugating the Palestinians — and therefore that the United States will not be complicit in several more decades of subjugation — is a seemingly endless parade of coming perils, each of which, it is claimed or hoped, will cause Israel to end its occupation in the near future.

Initially, the threat was of an attack by the Arab states. But that soon crumbled: Israel made a separate peace with the strongest one, Egypt; the Arabs proved incapable of defending even sovereign Lebanon from Israeli invasion; and in recent years, many Arab states have failed to uphold even their longstanding boycott of Israel.

Then there was the demographic threat of a Palestinian majority arising between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. But official Israeli and Palestinian population statistics indicate that Jews have been a minority in the territory Israel controls for several years now, and with no repercussions: A majority of the world’s nations still speak of undemocratic rule by a Jewish minority as a hypothetical future, not an unacceptable present.


A standoff as Palestinians and Israeli soldiers await the arrival of Palestinian police officers in Gaza in 1994 (Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos)

Later came the threat of renewed Palestinian violence. But Israel, with the strongest army in the region, has repeatedly demonstrated that it can endure and outlast whatever bursts of resistance the divided and exhausted Palestinians can muster.

The next threats, too, came up empty. The rise of nominally pro-Palestinian powers like India and China has, to date, had no negative effect on Israel, which has strengthened ties with both countries. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, though noisy on some American campuses, has yet to make a dent in Israel’s economy or its citizens’ self-reported level of life satisfaction, among the highest in the world.

Advocacy among some Palestinian intellectuals and their allies for enfranchisement in a single state, the so-called one-state solution, has not been endorsed by a single Palestinian faction and is a long way from drawing majority support in the West Bank and Gaza. If the proposal ever gathered momentum, Israel could easily counter it by withdrawing from the West Bank, as it did from Gaza in 2005.

The latest, though surely not the last, in this list of threats is the prospect of political changes within America and its Jewish community. Israel has become a more partisan issue, and polls show a majority of Democrats in favor of some economic sanctions or other action against Israeli settlements. Among American Jews, a growing rate of intermarriage with gentiles is lessening attachment to Israel, and Jewish organizations are increasingly divided over support for the country. Despite such vexation, mainly among liberal Jews, surveys over nearly four decades have shown overall American backing for Israel over the Palestinians only increasing, and none of the hand-wringing has translated into changes in American policy.

For American politicians, electoral and campaign finance incentives still dictate a baseline of unconditional support for Israel. The United States has given more than $120 billion to the country since the occupation began, spent tens of billions of dollars backing pro-Israel regimes ruling over anti-Israel populations in Egypt and Jordan, and provided billions more to the Palestinian Authority on condition that it continue preventing attacks and protests against Israeli settlements. And those expenditures do not reckon the cost to American security interests of Arab and Muslim resentment toward the United States for enabling and bankrolling the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

For the most part, the Palestinians themselves have done much to support the status quo. The myth upheld by leaders of the Palestinian government is that cooperating with Israel’s occupation — which, in fact, makes the occupation less costly, more invisible to Israelis and easier to sustain — will somehow bring it to an end. This will happen, the theory goes, either because Palestinian good behavior will generate pressure from the contented Israeli public or because Israel, once deprived of excuses, will be forced by the United States and the international community to grant Palestinians their independence.

This is the myth underlying the continued support of the Oslo arrangements long after they were set to expire in 1999. It was also the basis for the two-year plan of former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to build the institutions of a Palestinian state, and for the 12 years of quiescence and close security cooperation with Israel under President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

A counterpart to this myth, propounded by Israeli officials and regurgitated by American policy makers, is that Israel will not make concessions if pressured but will do so if it is warmly embraced. The historical record demonstrates the opposite.

Severe pressure from the United States, including the threat of economic sanctions, forced Israel to evacuate Sinai and Gaza after the 1956 Suez crisis. It also compelled Israel to commit to a partial Sinai pullout in 1975. It made Israel acquiesce to the principle of its withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war, including the West Bank, in the 1978 Camp David accords. And it obliged Israel to reverse its incursions into southern Lebanon in 1977 and 1978.

By the same token, it was Palestinian pressure, including mass demonstrations and violence, that precipitated every Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who agreed to the first Israeli pullouts from parts of the West Bank and Gaza, made his initial proposals for Palestinian self-government in 1989, when he was the defense minister attempting to quash the first intifada. Even Yitzhak Shamir, then the prime minister and a vehement opponent of ceding territory to the Arabs, put forward an autonomy plan for Palestinians later that year.

As the intifada developed into an increasingly militarized conflict in 1993, and Israel sealed off the occupied territories in March that year, Israeli negotiators held secret meetings with Palestinians near Oslo. There, they asked for an end to the intifada and soon agreed to evacuate the military government and establish Palestinian self-rule. In 1996, the clashes and riots known as the tunnel uprising led directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to negotiate a withdrawal from most of Hebron, which Israel formally committed to do several months later.

During the second intifada, rocket attacks from Gaza increased sevenfold in the year before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced Israel would evacuate. (According to Israel’s talking point, the army pulled out and got rockets; in fact, it was already getting rockets before it pulled out.) Shortly after the Gaza disengagement and the close of the intifada, a plurality of Israelis voted for the Kadima Party, led by the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who ran on a platform of withdrawing from the roughly 91 percent of the West Bank that lies east of the separation barrier.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Balata Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

I renewed everything
Balata Family, Jabaliya refugee camp
11 people killed
July 29, 2014

Naim sat in a room full of birds, drinking his morning coffee. At the end of July, the Israeli army had warned the people of East Jabaliya to evacuate the area. Naim was torn: should they leave everything behind and run? Who would take care of the birds? His brother Abdelkarim’s house, where they would have been welcome, had a thick cement roof, something that could protect them from debris in case of a nearby explosion. Above Naim’s head was a thin sheet of asbestos, not even good enough to shield his family from the merciless heat of the summer sun. Naim’s 17-year-old son, Ala, was on his way to pick up groceries from the market when he saw many people leaving the area. Some people were carrying their belongings, others were riding on donkey carts or in tuk-tuks, a few had cars, filled up to the roof. When he got back home, he convinced his father that they too should evacuate their place and go to their uncle Abdelkarim’s house, also in the Jabaliya refugee camp, but a much more solid construction.

The family sat in Abdelkarim’s house, eating lunch, telling each other stories, joking and trying to turn their forced evacuation into a family gathering. The two brothers were very close, so were their wives. Later on that day, Ala’s older sister, Wafaa’, brought up the topic of marriage. She said their mother had someone in mind for Ala. He listened, but right away laughed the idea off.

The shelling started on 29 July in the afternoon and lasted until the next day. The house of Naim’s brother, Abdelkarim, where the family had gone for shelter, was hit on the first day, it was struck by several shells. One of them fell into the room where Ala’s sisters were staying. Ala’s parents and all seven siblings were killed.

“DELO”

Room of 17-year-old Hadil, nicknamed “Delo”. “She planned to become a doctor; she promised this to her grandfather,” Hadil’s father, Abdelkarim, says. Ala, her cousin, will add later that she got 92% in her high school final exam. She made the entire family proud.

The families of two brothers Naim and Abdelkarim ate lunch together. When the shelling started soon after, most of them were napping.
The families of two brothers Naim and Abdelkarim ate lunch together. When the shelling started soon after, most of them were napping.

“We are homeless now. I demand justice, I demand that an international court hold Israel accountable, because they murdered our family, with no warning. All I want is to find a prosecutor who will take this case, but no one is looking into it,” Abdelkarim says.

“We are homeless now. I demand justice, I demand that an international court hold Israel accountable, because they murdered our family, with no warning. All I want is to find a prosecutor who will take this case, but no one is looking into it,” Abdelkarim says.

NOWHERE SAFE TO GO

Now that Abdelkarim’s house was destroyed, his family was homeless. The Israeli offensive was in full swing and the family needed shelter. The UNRWA schools, where internally displaced Gazans sought safety, were full. And before they had even begun to consider going to one of those temporary shelters, a nearby elementary school in Jabaliya camp was shelled by the Israeli military, just 12 hours after their house was hit. Nearly one hundred people were injured, and 19 – mostly women and children – killed.

But there was of course Naim’s house, now standing empty. Ala couldn’t return there straight away. Literally everything brought up memories of his family. As Abdelkarim’s family temporarily moved in there, Ala gathered a few items, took his father’s canaries to his cousin, who was also a bird breeder, and went to an overcrowded UNRWA school.

For a while, Ala lived between the school and the house of another uncle. At the school, there was no space in the classrooms and he slept outside, in the playground. The days were awfully hot and the nights were cold. He couldn’t decide which place was safer. After all, his family had died seeking shelter in a relatives’ house, while a nearby UNRWA school was shelled by the Israeli army. He eventually chose the school and during the last week of the bombing, he was so terrified that he wasn’t able to leave it at all. He didn’t feel at ease there, yet he stayed even after the war.

 

EVEN THE BIRDS FELT THE LOSS

Once he was ready to move back to the house, Ala brought the birds that he left to his cousin back to his family home. He placed them in their old room, where his father used to have coffee every morning. He intended to take good care of them. Ala wanted to fulfil all of his parents’ wishes – his father, apart from the birds being cared for, would want Ala to go back to school, while his mother would wish for him to get married and start his own family. Naim was an electrician; he had worked hard all his life so that his children wouldn’t have to, so that each one had a chance to finish university. Ala’s late sister, 22-year-old Doaa’, had already graduated, while Wafaa’ and Hanaa’ had both been university students. He was supposed to follow in their footsteps, but it turned out to be a real struggle.

The birds started to die, one after another, as if they were also feeling the tragic loss of their owners. Ala sold the remaining canaries four months after the end of the war. He tried to resit his final exams in order to get accepted into a university, but studying was hard for him, not only because school simply wasn’t his thing, but because he was traumatized. Post-war trauma can make it really hard to focus and to memorize things. Despite his best intentions, his plan to become a college student had to be postponed. But there was one last thing he had set his mind on: starting a family of his own. On this front, he did not give up. In his eyes, there was only one person he wanted do it with: his cousin Amuna, the one his sister talked about just a day before their family was bombed.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Khalili Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

Life and death in Gaza: neither normal, nor natural
Al-Khalili family, Gaza City, al-Tuffah neighbourhood
8 people killed
July 30, 2014

In al-Tuffah neighbourhood, in the eastern part of Gaza City, Mahmoud al-Khalili turns the ground floor of his family home into a workshop, which in time grows to become a small factory adjacent to the building. His sons, Ashraf and Ahmed, work with their father and eventually become mechanics of specialized factory machines imported from Germany. The family business is doing well despite the fact that the Israeli occupation and the blockade increasingly cripple the local economy, eventually leaving half of Gaza’s population unemployed. The factory produces simple plastic and wooden elements, such as broomsticks. Easily flammable.

One hot Friday afternoon

June 2014, Gaza beach

Mahmoud’s son, 37-year-old Ashraf, is laughing and when he laughs his whole body shakes. Compulsively hospitable, as all Gazans are, he entices his guests to eat more and more of a watermelon, picking for them the sweetest and juiciest pieces and not stopping until the silver tray is empty.

Ashraf and his childhood friends from al-Tuffah meet every weekend in a small chalet on the Gaza City beach, where they smoke sheesha, play cards and chat about troubles at home. All are married, with kids. Ashraf and his wife Nidaa’ have three children, age three to eight: Mahmoud, Dima and Ziyad. Ashraf is a proud father and Dima is the apple of her daddy’s eye, as he says. She is a very energetic little girl. The kids are the joy of the house above the factory, where three generations of al-Khalilis live.

It is just another hot Friday afternoon in Gaza. The beach is packed. Children play in the water. Families barbecue and picnic, enjoying the only open space in the Strip – the sea, the only window of this prison cell that the Gaza Strip has become. They know very well that the sea’s openness is illusory; go past three or four nautical miles from the shore and the Israeli navy will be there to attack you, arrest you and confiscate your boat. Ashraf and his friends spend the evening imagining how it would be to live in a normal place. Not under Israeli siege, not under the constant threat of Israeli bombings, not under the rule of a conservative government. How does it feel to be free? It’s a question asked by many people in the enclave.

JULY 8, 2014

Israel launches a military operation codenamed Protective Edge – a large-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip. It starts with aerial bombings.

 

JULY 17, 2014

The Israeli army begins the ground offensive. Eastern parts of the enclave are at risk from artillery fire – an extremely imprecise weapon. The target of an artillery shell is an area of fifty by fifty meters large. If a shell falls within 100 meters of the target, it is still considered a hit. The UN Human Rights Council concluded in its report that due to the indiscriminate nature of artillery shelling, using it in densely populated areas – almost anywhere in the Gaza Strip – can constitute a violation of the customary international law prohibition of direct attack on civilians and amount to a war crime. Israel will pour 35,000 artillery shells into the Gaza Strip during the summer war.

JULY 29, 2014

AL-TUFFAH

The night is horrifying. Bombs explode all around and to the al-Khalili family it becomes clear that it is not safe to stay in al-Tuffah anymore.

JULY 30, 2014

EARLY MORNING, AL-TUFFAH

In the morning, Mahmoud gathers his children and grandchildren and starts sending them off to houses of relatives located further away from the border with Israel. It is almost impossible to find a car, there is a severe fuel shortage and drivers are afraid to enter neighbourhoods close to the combat zones and targetted areas. The al-Khalilis need more than one car – there are 30 people waiting to be evacuated.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Hashash Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

Eid of martyrs
Al-Hashash family, Rafah, in the al-Hashasheen area
7 people killed
July 29, 2014

Every morning, on her way to school, Mina passes a poster on the side of the road. She makes sure she walks right by it. If anyone is in the street, she will grab their attention and pull them close to look at the poster with her. It has pictures of her brothers, and a rose instead of a photo for her step-mom Hanaa’. Neighbours or passersby have to stand there as Mina names each one of them; once the ritual is done, she will allow them to leave.

THE FAMILY

Ahmed al-Hashash was the knot that tied everyone together. He is a deeply religious man. He was married to three women, Amina, Hanaa’ and Amna, and they had twelve children. They were a big family. Amna and Amina will say later that they were warm, caring and supportive of each other. “We were all one,” says Amna; the polygamy did not get in the way.

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