Testimony about Israel’s use of internationally-banned white phosphorus

Dec 28,2019

Ghada Abu Halima, 21, a mother of two, two months after giving her testimony to B’Tselem, she died of her wounds in hospital in Egypt.

While the world is heading to 2020, it must keep remembering the crimes the Israeli occupation state is carrying out against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

I lived with my husband, Muhammad, 24, and our two little daughters, Farah, 3, and Aya, 6 months, in the a-Sifa section of Beit Lahiya. We lived in the same house as Muhammad’s parents and his seven siblings, the youngest of which was the baby, Shahd, 1.

Our house had two floors. On the first floor were 250 square meters of storage rooms, and we lived on the second floor. We are farmers and have land next to the house.

On Saturday night, 3 January 2009, Israeli jets dropped leaflets calling on residents of the area to leave their homes. The army did the same thing in previous incursions and we didn’t leave the house, so this time, too, we decided not to leave.

Around 4 P.M. the next day, 4 January, when all the family was in the house, the army started to shell our area. A few minutes later, shells landed on our house. Fire broke out in the house and several members of the family burned to death: my father-in-law, his baby daughter Shahd, and three of his sons – ‘Abd a-Rahim, Zeid and Hamzah.

My mother-in-law and her sons Yusef, ‘Omar and ‘Ali suffered burns. The fire spread throughout the house. I was holding my daughter Farah and we were both burned too. My clothes went up in flames, and some of my skin and Farah’s skin was scorched. Luckily, my baby daughter Aya wasn’t hurt. I ripped the clothes off my body and cried out that I was burning. I was naked in front of everybody in the house.

My body was burning and the pain was excruciating. I could smell my flesh burning. I was in a horrible condition. I looked for something to cover myself and shouted non-stop. My husband’s brother took off his pants and gave them to me to wear. The top part of my body stayed naked until my husband came and covered me with his jacket.

Then he ran to the road to get an ambulance or find some people to help us get the killed and injured people out of the house. He couldn’t find any ambulance or firefighting vehicle. His cousins, who live nearby came to help. My husband lifted me up and Nabilah, his aunt, picked up Farah. Another aunt, who also came to help, took Aya.

Muhammad, Farah, Nabilah, her son ‘Ali, ‘Omar, Matar and I all got onto a wagon hitched to a tractor. Muhammad-Hikmat drove it, heading to Kamal ‘Adwan Hospital. We also took the body of the baby Shahd. We left all the others in the house.

On the way, we saw soldiers about 300 meters from al-‘Atatrah Square. Muhammad stopped the tractor and suddenly, the soldiers opened fire at us. They killed Matar and Muhammad-Hikmat. ‘Ali was wounded and managed to run away with Nabilah and ‘Omar.

The soldiers told my husband to undress, which he did. Then he put his clothes back on and the soldiers told us to continue by foot. We left the three bodies in the wagon. My husband, Farah, and I walked toward the square, where we got into a car that happened to be passing by. He took us to a-Shifaa Hospital. It was about 6:00 P.M. when we got to the hospital.

I am still hospitalized. My whole body was burned, and so was my face. Farah has third-degree burns. We were referred to further treatment in Egypt and they tried to take us to Rafah by ambulance, but the army fired at us on the way. The driver was slightly wounded in the face and he drove back to the hospital. Now we are waiting for authorization to leave for Egypt.

Source: B’Tselem