JABALIYA REFUGEE CAMP: “For a split second I thought it had struck our neighbour’s home. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in hospital,” said 19-year-old Nour Hijazi, lying in a hospital bed in Jabaliya’s Kamal Edwan Hospital with a shattered spine.
The Hijazi family, consisting of six boys and two girls, were sitting with their parents watching television on Monday evening when the Israeli missile hit their home, killing three of them, and seriously wounding the rest.
“I’m really angry and upset that my whole family were injured in this,” she said.
Nour, in her final year at school, has yet to be told that her two brothers, four-year-old Mohammad and two-year-old Suhaib, and her father Fouad, were killed in the air strike.
Suhaib’s identical twin Mosaab, sustained injuries but survived the attack. The other children; Sondoss, Osama, and Mustapha, all sustained serious injuries, and are currently undergoing treatment in various hospitals across Gaza City.
Nour’s younger brother, 17-year-old Ashraf, remembers when the missile struck the house.
“There was no warning, we just felt the entire house collapse around us,” he said from his hospital bed.
“I was stuck under the rubble. I heard the voices of our neighbours trying to pull us out,” he said. “There is no reason for them to have targeted us. We’re just normal residents.”
A statement released on Tuesday morning by the Israeli army summarising the attacks they perpetrated throughout the evening said: “The sites that were targeted have been positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of months.”
Nothing but sand and rubble
On Tuesday, there was nothing but sand and rubble left in the area where their home once stood.
Neighbours and other camp residents spent the day clearing up the debris and salvaging what few belongings were still lying around to give back to the remaining Hijazis once they come out of hospital.
As crowds of people continued to gather around the explosion site, Israeli drones could still be heard buzzing in the skies.
Every so often, the sounds of explosions in different parts of the city resonated through the streets, as children discussed among themselves whether they came from the Israeli navy ships or from the Israeli airplanes.
“Why is there a war on Gaza? It’s because the Israelis want our lands, right?” asked 14-year-old Hamza Abu Gamsar, a friend of the Hijazi boys. “Every year there is a war on Gaza.”
“These people are just civilians. Fouad worked as a security guard for a school, he had nothing to do with politics,” decried Hisham Salem, a neighbour whose front-door was blasted off its hinges because of the explosion.
Hisham and his family were in their own living room when the missile hit their neighbours. Two of his children, 11 years old and 12 years old, ran screaming to the corner of the room, almost trampling their two-month-old brother in panic.
“We never heard any bomb coming. We only heard the front door explode, and then saw a rush of flames come through the opening,” he said, pointing to the gaping entrance.
‘We will continue to resist’
They tried to get out, but were forced to retreat back to the room because the smoke was too strong. After a few minutes they forced their way through the smoke to reach outside. “We didn’t see any of the family. We just saw a pile of rubbish.”
He spent Tuesday with other neighbours piling up the Hijazis belongings in his home. “These are all we could find,” he said, about the pile of dusty clothing and ornaments.
When asked why his neighbour’s house was targeted, Hisham said, “Everyone in Gaza is a target. This is not about Hamas,” he said, adding this was not the first time the Hijazi family had been affected by Israeli attacks. In 2008, their eldest son was also killed by Israeli air strikes.
Pointing to where the Hijazi house once stood, Hisham went on to say, “You can see with your own eyes, there are no words. Just look.”
The death-toll continued to mount on Tuesday, bringing the total since it began a week ago to at least 131 killed, and several hundred more wounded. While the streets in Gaza City are now relatively empty, with most storefronts closed, residents remain resilient.
Moaqassim Al Digis, 10 years old, was a friend of the Hijazi boys. He described how they would play football together on the street next to the house, how the Hijazi children were friendly and sociable.
“Yet, we are not afraid of this war. Why not? Because we exist,” he said, standing atop the rubble of his friend’s house.
“We will be patient, but we will continue to resist. We will not give up, and we will not raise the white flag.”
From his hospital bed, Ashraf remained defiant. “God will take revenge for this, and we are asking for the resistance to keep going.”