Displaced people from Gaza: ‘I saw 10 bodies, one decapitated with his hands still holding the steering wheel of the car’

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Gaza

Displaced people from Gaza: 'I saw 10 bodies, one decapitated with his hands still holding the steering wheel of the car'

On November 16, Jihad al-Mashrawi moved his family from their home in northern Gaza, weeks after the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. BBC Arab cameraman Jihad al-Mashrawi has given surprising details about his displacement and difficult journey.

Warning: The details in this article may be disturbing to some readers.

We left the house in a hurry. We were baking bread when we realized that the houses in front of us were being bombed one by one. I knew it would soon be our turn. We had already packed some things for this situation but everything happened in such a hurry that we forgot to bring them. We didn’t even close the front door of our house.

We waited to leave because we didn’t want to uproot our elderly parents and secondly, we had saved for years and built our own house in the Al Zaytoun area, but we had to leave it.

My youngest son, Omar, died there in November 2012 when sharp shrapnel from a projectile hit our house in another war with Israel. I couldn’t risk losing any more children now.

I knew that in southern Gaza there was no electricity, no water, and people had to queue for hours to go to the bathroom, but in the end, with just a bottle of water and some leftover bread, we made it with thousands of others. He made the dangerous journey from the Salah al-Din road to southern Azza, which Israel says is a safe area.

Many of my family members, including my wife Ahlham, my four children aged two, eight, nine and 14 respectively, my brothers, parents, sisters, cousins and their children, walked with me.

Salahuddin Road Travel Experience Gaza

We walked for hours and knew we would eventually pass through an Israeli checkpoint that had been set up during the war. We were afraid and my children asked me: ‘What will the army do to us?’

We stopped at a stop about two-thirds of a mile from the checkpoint and joined a huge line of people that filled the entire highway. We waited there for more than four hours and my father fainted three times.

Israeli soldiers watched us from the bombed-out buildings on one side of the road and from the vacant lots on the other.

As we approached the outpost, we saw more soldiers in a tent built on a hill. We think they were there, watching the outpost from a distance, watching us through binoculars and using a loudspeaker to tell us what to do.

Displaced people from Gaza

Near the store there were two open containers. All of us men had to go through the container one by one and the women through another where the cameras were constantly watching us. As we passed, the Israeli soldiers asked to see our identification cards and were photographed.

It was like Judgment Day.
I saw about 50 people detained there, all of them men, including two of my neighbors. A young man was detained at this checkpoint because he lost his papers and did not remember his ID number. Another man who was in line with me was called a terrorist by an Israeli soldier before he was taken away.

They asked them to remove their underwear, undress and sit on the floor in front of them. Some of them were later asked to get dressed and leave, while others were blindfolded. I saw four people, including my neighbors, being blindfolded and led behind a hill of sand from a destroyed building. When they were out of sight, we heard gunshots. I don’t know if they were shot or not.

Additionally, a colleague of mine in Cairo contacted other people who were traveling like me. One of them, Kamal Al-Jojo, said that when he passed the checkpoint a week ago, he saw some dead bodies but did not know how they died.

A colleague of mine also spoke to a man named Muhammad who passed through the same checkpoint on November 13. “A soldier asked me to take off all my clothes, even my underwear,” Muhammad said.

He was naked in front of all the people passing by. I felt embarrassed when an Israeli soldier suddenly pointed his gun at me and laughed before quickly putting it away. I was humiliated.

Mohammad said he had to wait naked for about two hours before he was allowed to leave.

However, my wife, children, parents and I made it through the checkpoint safely, but my two brothers were delayed. While we were waiting for them, an Israeli soldier shouted at a group of people in front of us who were trying to get back to the containers to keep going. They were trying to find out about their detained relatives.

What happened to my children? Gaza

The soldier used a loudspeaker to ask them to move forward and stay at least 300 meters away, then a soldier began shooting into the air in his direction to scare them away. While we were in line, we heard a lot of gunshots.
At that moment everyone was crying and my mother was crying: “What happened to my children?” Did they shoot him? After about an hour, my brothers approached.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told the BBC that “individuals suspected of having links to terrorist organizations” were detained for initial interrogation and, if suspected, sent to Israel for further interrogation. has been transferred. The Israeli military says the others were “immediately released.”

The Israel Defense Forces said the men were stripped naked to check for suicide and explosive vests and were dressed as soon as possible. The Israeli military says its intention was not to “undermine the dignity and security of detainees and that the Israeli military operates in accordance with international law.”

The Israeli army also says it “does not shoot at civilians traveling along the humanitarian corridor from north to south,” but when the youth tried to go in the opposite direction, they were attacked “in order to disperse them.” Fire had to be used. Announcements were made over loudspeakers not to advance toward the soldiers’ position and they continued to do so.

The statement added that the sounds of gunshots are normal and that the sound of gunshots alone does not indicate a particular location or a particular type of gunshot.

My wife and I were relieved when we passed the military post and the post disappeared from sight, but we had no idea that the most difficult part of the trip was yet to come.

As we moved south, I saw about 10 corpses in different places on the side of the road, while the rest were scattered with decomposed body parts covered in flies that the birds were scratching. They emanated a stench and stench that I had never experienced before.

I couldn’t bear the thought of my children seeing all this and I screamed at them at the top of my lungs to look up at the sky and move on.

On the way I saw a burned car with a decapitated human body inside. The decomposing corpse’s hands were still holding the steering wheel of the car.

There were carcasses of dead donkeys and horses along the road, while some only had skeletons left, and there were also piles of garbage and spoiled food scattered along the road.

At the same time, an Israeli tank appeared from the level road and was advancing towards us at high speed. We were afraid and had to run over dead bodies to escape. Part of the crowd fell on the corpses. The tank changed course about 20 meters before reaching the main road.

Suddenly, a bomb exploded in a building next to the road. The explosion was terrifying and bullets started flying everywhere. At that moment I wished that the earth would open and we would be buried.

This incident surprised us. At that time we were also tired but we continued towards Nusrat camp. When we arrived at night, we had to sleep on the floor. The ground was frozen.

I gave my jacket to my kids and put their hands on the arms of the jacket to try to keep them warm. I covered my youngest son with my shirt. I had never seen him so cold in my entire life.

When the BBC asked the Israeli army about the tanks and bodies, it said: “During the day, tanks move along the roads connecting to Salah al-Din Road, but there was no case of the tanks causing human victims in Gaza. “. Move toward citizens traveling from north to south along the Corridor of Compassion.’

The Israeli military said it was not aware of any piles of bodies on the Salah al-Din road, but that there were times when Gaza vehicles “dropped bodies during the journey, which were later recovered by the IDF.”

JEHAD EL-MASHHRAWI
Find a safe place Gaza

The next morning we left for Khan Yunis, the second largest city in Gaza. We paid someone to take us in a donkey cart. After that, in Deir al-Balah we boarded a bus that only had capacity for 20 people but also had 30 people on board. Some sat on the ceiling and others hung outside the doors and windows.

In Khan Yunis we tried to find a safe place to stay in a UN-run school that had been converted into a shelter, but it was overcrowded. Instead, we rented a warehouse under a residential building and stayed there for a week.

My parents, brothers and sisters decided to stay in Khan Yunis, but after the bombing in the local market, my wife and I decided to take our children further south, to Rafah, to be with my family.

They got a ride and then I joined them by bus, but it was so packed I had to stay outside the door.

We now live in a small makeshift house with a tin and plastic roof. There is nothing here to protect us from the bullets flying from the bombardment.

Everything is very expensive here and we can’t get many of the things we need. If we want drinking water, we have to queue for three hours and we don’t have enough food for three meals a day, so we don’t have lunch, we only have breakfast and dinner.

My son ate an egg every day. Just one egg. Can you imagine I can’t even give it to him anymore? All I want is to get out of Gaza and be safe with my children, even if that means living in a tent.

Additional information for this article was provided by Abdul Rahman Abu Talib of BBC News Arabe in Cairo.

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