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Affidavit No. 7917/2012

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Yousef Jalal Saleh ‘Arafat, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 946694213, born on 19 October 1982, a worker, and a resident of the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, Gaza city, Gaza governorate, would like to declare the following:

My name is Yousef Jalal Saleh ‘Arafat. I am 30 years old, married, and father of three children: Jalal, eight, Ronan, five, and Maria, ten. I live in a recently built house, the surface area of which is 120 square metres. It consists of three rooms, a guestroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom. It is built out of concrete and roofed with tin sheets. Our home is located at the beginning of the Abu Daf citrus grove in the midst of farmland and houses in the centre of the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood east of Gaza city. The house of my brother Saleh, 23, which is under construction, is next to mine.

At around 4:55 pm on Wednesday, 14 November 2012, I was on the street opposite my home. A large number of Israeli military aircrafts patrolled the skies over the area. I heard the sound of a very strong explosion near to our home, which shook the whole area. I saw smoke rising from the area around my brother Saleh’s home, which is adjacent to mine in a southerly direction. I rushed as fast as I could to my home to check on my wife and children. An Israeli F16 aircraft had fired a missile towards the area next to my home. As I was going to my home, I saw my daughter Maria crying and trying to get out of the house through the outer door. At that time, an F16 aircraft fired a missile that landed in front of the outer door of the house. Smoke spread over the area. The explosion pushed my daughter Maria for a distance of almost ten metres away from the door of the house. She fell to the ground between the trees.

I saw a hole that was almost seven metres deep in the first area that had been shelled by the Israeli aircraft. I saw a similar hole in the other targeted area. Also, I saw my home completely destroyed on top of my wife and children, whom I had just left while they were sitting in the guestroom. I had gone out to the opposite street to buy some stuff for my children. Later, I found my daughter Maria. She was very scared and blood gushed out of her feet. She did not say a word out of intense fear of the loud explosions. Then, I went to my destroyed home. A number of the neighbourhood residents arrived to help me search for my wife and children under the rubble of our home. When we lifted some rubble at the entrance to the house, I saw my wife buried under the rubble. Only her head was visible. She told me that my children Jalal and Ronan were under the rubble immediately behind her. We took my wife out from underneath the rubble. She sustained wounds in the head and various parts of her body. We also rescued Jalal, who was injured in the head. Then, we started to search for my daughter Ronan. We located her under the rubble about 20 minutes later. Her head and feet were smashed. I did not see any signs of life in her. Later, an ambulance arrived and transported my wife and children to the al-Shifa’ hospital.

At the hospital, doctors confirmed that Ronan had been martyred and took her to the mortuary. Then, I went to check on my wife and children. Doctors confirmed to me that Maria had sustained shrapnel wounds in the feet and that her health condition was moderate. They put seven stitches in the wound on my wife’s head. They also used 14 stitches to close the shrapnel wounds on her left foot. My wife was three months pregnant, so the doctors relocated her to the maternity ward to check on the foetus. Doctors also told me that Jalal had sustained shrapnel wounds in the head and said that he should stay in hospital for several days for medical attention.

On the next day, I received my daughter Ronan’s dead body and buried it in the ‘Asqoula cemetery in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood. My son Jalal stayed for four days at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza for medical treatment, and then returned home.

Ronan is my youngest daughter. Since my home was shelled by the Israeli aircraft, I have been temporarily residing at my father-in-law’s house.

 

This is my declaration, which I hereby sign, 28 November 2012

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 7917/2012
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 28 November 2012
  • Name: Yousef Jalal Saleh ‘Arafat
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