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Israel’s Nuseirat massacre and Gaza’s wounds that won’t heal

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Deir el-Balah, Gaza – The two weeks that have passed since the June 8 Nuseirat massacre, when Israeli forces killed at least 274 Palestinians to free four Israeli captives, have not brought any healing to the survivors.

More than 500 more Palestinians were injured in the attack, filling Deir el-Balah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, with every inch of the floors covered with people in pain bleeding and screaming.

Many of the injured still lie at the hospital. Here are some of their stories.

Raghad

Raghad al-Assar, a 12-year-old girl, lay motionless with her head bandaged.

She was struck in the Israeli bombardment that targeted her home during the massacre. Her father Mohammad, 46, stood near her, barely able to talk. Two of his daughters were killed in the massacre, and his wife and another daughter, Rahaf, are in critical condition in intensive care.

Mohammad, who sells clothes at the Nuseirat camp market, described the sudden chaos as drones and quadcopters targeted people in the market, explosions everywhere.

He huddled in his shop as he tried to call his family to check on them, to no avail.

Raghad [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

“I was looking out at the street and seeing people falling and hearing them screaming and pleading … no one understood what was happening,” Mohammad said.

His eyes filled with tears as he recalled a relative calling to tell him that their home had been hit and two of his daughters killed.

“I didn’t understand what I was hearing. I ran out under the shelling, trying to take a shortcut, but it was too crazy. People were running, falling under the heavy shooting, right in front of me.”

About two hours later, Mohammad finally got to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital – and to scenes of carnage.

“There was blood everywhere, victims, injured, body parts, and cries of agony… everywhere… there was nowhere to set your foot down. It was like the Day of Resurrection,” he said.

Mohammad searched desperately for his family, eventually finding his injured wife and daughter.

But Raghad was missing.

Mohammad was frantic, relatives joining him in looking everywhere, peering at wounded people lying in corridors and checking the bodies being prepared for a hasty burial.

“We finally found her past midnight. She was on the ground, unconscious. There were dead bodies and injured people everywhere. They had presumed she was dead at first.

“I lost two daughters so they could free four Israeli captives. Now, I’m afraid I’m going to lose my wife and remaining daughter due to lack of medical care,” Mohammad lamented.

Ahmed

Ahmed Abu Hujair, 32, was going to the market for some vegetables and essentials when the world turned upside down around him.

“Suddenly, quadcopters and helicopters appeared. I saw armed men disguised as vendors appearing in the market and opening fire directly at people,” Ahmed said.

“The market was packed, especially at that hour. So many people were being hurt, falling, screaming.”

Before Ahmed could comprehend what was happening, he was felled by five bullets to his legs.

Ahmed
Ahmed’s legs were shattered by bullets fired directly at them [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

He lay there, bleeding, with hundreds of injured people for more than an hour before ambulances were able to enter and take them to the hospital, and explained that he was slipping in and out of consciousness because of the blood loss.

It was like Black Hawk Down, Ahmed said, real life mimicking the famous 2001 war movie. But the choppers weren’t there to help Ahmed.

“They were shooting directly at us, with huge bullets,” Ahmed says. “My right leg was nearly shattered from top to bottom by three bullets, and my left leg was severely wounded by two bullets.”

Seven of Ahmed’s family were killed by Israeli bombs on their home in Nuseirat about two months ago – his mother, sisters, and brothers.

“My father and I miraculously survived, but he still suffers,” Ahmed said. “How much more must we endure? Was this massacre truly inflicted so four people could be retrieved?”

Ghazal

Sixteen-year-old Ghazal al-Ghussein gazed out with unseeing eyes. Shrapnel hit her in the head as Israel bombed indiscriminately during the massacre.

Her 15-year-old brother was killed, and her parents suffered head wounds and extensive burns. Her six-month-old sister has a severe eye injury, a corneal laceration.

Her aunt, 48-year-old Hayat al-Ghussein, sat beside her.

“I was planning to go see my sister, Ghazal’s mother, at their makeshift tent near the market,” she started. “I was just at the market to buy a few things on the way when shelling and gunfire erupted from all directions. I ran… [there were] screams everywhere, I saw children, women, many injured people. I ran, screaming, barely comprehending what was going around.”

According to Hayat, the bombing and gunfire targeted the displaced persons’ tents, including the one where her sister’s family lived.

“People were running out of their tents. I was shocked when I got to my sister’s tent, they were all wounded and bleeding – my sister, her husband, their children, even their baby was hit in the eye.”

Ghazal
Ghazal lies on her cot, unseeing, while her aunt Hayat frets beside her [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Hayat tried to reach them, but the shooting was too close and she had to run. When calm finally returned, she went back to the tent as ambulances arrived to take the injured and deceased.

“My nephew bled to death; no one could save him,” she sobbed.

“Ghazal can’t move, stand, speak, or hear. How does this happen to a young girl? What wrong did she commit?”

Because of the enormous number of injuries, the al-Ghusseins could not stay together at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. Some family members had to be moved to the equally underequipped and overloaded European Hospital in Khan Younis.

“How can this happen before the eyes of the world?” Hayat asked.

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