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From the field

IDF shells inhabited area in Beit Lahiya, hits house, wounding four persons, 4 April 2006

Mustafa Abu Shmas, tailor

Yesterday [Tuesday, 4 March] at around 11:00 A.M., I saw a group of Palestinian combatants firing rockets at Sderot, a town inside Israel . They were operating from farmland owned by 'Omer Khalil, from a place about 100 meters from my house, which lies in the northern part of Beit Lahiya, in the Far'us area. After they fired the rockets, the Israeli army fired tank shells in our direction. The firing lasted about two hours, shattering windows in my house.

Around 3:20 in the afternoon, while I was sitting at home with my wife, Fatma, and my children, Alaa, 8, Du'aa, 6, Baraa' 4, and 'Omar, 14 months, the Israeli army started to fire again. At 3:25, my brother Khaled and I went to my brother Yusef's house, which is next to mine, to get his wife and infant son Yasser, who is six months old, and take them to my father's house. When I entered Yusef's house, a shell fell inside their bedroom. At that moment, we all were standing next to the door: me, Khaled, his wife, and their infant son, whom she was holding.

The shell made a big hole in the roof. I was wounded over all my body from shell fragments, and lost three fingers on my right hand, all my toes on my right foot, but did not lose consciousness. Khaled was hit by fragments in the head, and he fainted. My sister-in-law and Yasser were also wounded from the fragments. Yasser suffered injuries also because he fell out of his mother's hands as a result of the shock wave from the explosion. A few seconds later, I got up and tried to drag Khaled out, but I couldn't. I went outside, shouting in pain, and calling out "ambulance, ambulance, ambulance." I then went back into the house and found my brother, sister-in-law, and the child all bloody. My sister-in-law and the infant suffered light wounds.

Around 3:50, an ambulance arrived and took us to Kamal ' Adwan Hospital . We arrived around 4:00 and were treated. I asked the doctors about my brother's condition, and they said that he had been transferred to intensive care at a-Shifa Hospital because he was in critical condition.

I should point out that the second volley of shells was not preceded by additional [Qassam] rocket fire.

Mustafa Ahmad Salameh Abu Shmas, 30, is a father of four, a tailor ana d resident of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip. His testimony was given to Zaki Kahil at Kamal 'Adwan Hospital on 5 April 2006.