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6 January 2009: Al-Dayah family

“The bodies of
nine of those killed were not found, including the bodies of my wife and my
children. I tried my best with the civil defense personnel to find their
bodies. All we found were pieces of flesh that were unidentifiable.”


Mohammed al-Dayah (31)
with his daughter Qamar (1.5)


On 6 January
2009, at approximately 05:45, an Israeli aircraft bombed the al-Dayah family in
the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza
. 22 people,
including 12 children and a pregnant woman, were killed. Only one of the family
members inside the house at the time of the attack, Amer al-Dayah (31),
survived. Amer, two brothers who had not yet returned home from Morning Prayer
at a nearby mosque, and two sisters who live elsewhere with their husbands and
children are the only surviving members of the al-Dayah family.


al-Dayah (31) recalls the day of the attack: “after I finished praying, I stood
beside the mosque, talking to our neighbor, waiting for the sound of the
airplanes and bombardments in the area to decrease. Then I heard a very
powerful explosion. Shrapnel landed where I was standing. I immediately rushed
home. When I reached it, I only found a pile of rubble. I began screaming and
calling out for members of my family, but there was no reply. They were all
under the rubble. Dead.”


Mohammed was
not able to bury his wife Tezal (28), daughters Amani (6), Qamar (5), Arij (3)
or his son Yousef (2). “The bodies of nine of those killed were not found,
including the bodies of my wife and my children. I tried my best with the civil
defense personnel to find their bodies. All we found were pieces of flesh that
were unidentifiable,” he says. Tazal was 8 months pregnant with a boy when she
was killed.


“At the moment
I cannot imagine ever being happy again, or celebrating a happy occasion. It
reminds me of the old life I used to have with my family. Before, I used to go
to many parties. I always danced dabke, together with my extended family in
Zeitoun. I led the dancing. Whenever we had a chance to celebrate, we would.
Now I cannot bear the sound of party music, of celebrations. It makes me too
sad. Whenever there is a party in the neighborhood, I have to leave the house
and go somewhere else,” says Mohammed. The holidays are the most difficult time
of the year for him: “during Ramadan and the Eid holidays I suffer and think of
them even more than usual.”


His brother
‘Amer pushed Mohammed to remarry. “At first I didn’t want to but I was alone
and I had to somehow rebuild a life,” says Mohammed.  Now Mohammed is remarried and has two
daughters, Amani (4 months) and Qamar (1.5 years old), both named after his
daughters who died in the attack. “I didn’t make a party when I remarried.
Neither did my brothers for their weddings. We simply do not feel like
celebrating anything.” 


Mohammed works
as an electrician with the Ministry of Health, but has had difficulties at his
work since he lost his family. “I am not able to sleep at night. The night time
is the most difficult part of the day for me as I cannot fall asleep. I have
tried everything. Even medicine, but that only made me dizzy. So, at night I
just stay up and keep myself busy; eating, taking a walk, sitting in the
cemetery, going for a run. Only after sunrise I fall asleep for a few hours,
exhausted. Then, how can I go to work in time? I can’t. My boss has given me 10
warnings so far but at the same time I know that he understands and has
sympathy for my situation.”


The three
brothers rebuilt a house on the same place as the old building. All three of
them insisted to return to the same location. “It is where we grew up,” says
Mohammed. “The Ministry of Works assisted us in constructing the base and first
floor of the house, but the bomb left a seven meter deep hole under the
building which affected the foundation and ground water. It took us 3 months to
fix the water problem, before we could even start construction of a new
building.” However, Mohammed still notices that there are problems with the
foundation of the building. “Every time there is a bombing, I feel the house
move. It wasn’t like that before. The house is not steady. The base was
destroyed by the bomb.”


As Mohammed
tries to rebuild a life and a future, he has no hopes that he will see those
responsible for the death of his family being held accountable. “I expect
nothing from Israeli Courts. They [Israel]
prepare a plan and justification first and then carry out their attack. The
war crimes are justified before being committed. Crimes could happen anytime


PCHR submitted a criminal
complaint to the Israeli authorities on behalf of the al-Dayah family on 18 May
2009. To-date, no response has been received.



The Narratives:

5 January 2009: Amal al-Samouni

– 4
January 2009: The Abdel Dayem Family

3 January
2009: Motee’ and Isma’il as-Selawy

– 2
January 2009: Eyad al-Astal

– 1 January
2009: The Nasla Family

December 2008: The Abu Areeda family

– 30
December 2008: The Hamdan Family

29 December
2008: Balousha Family

 28 December
2008: The Abu Taima family

– 27 December
2008: The Al Ashi Family.