Survivors of the al-Sawarka family in Gaza | News

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Gaza Strip The life of Noor al-Sawarka changed forever on the night the Israeli army attacked his family's house in the central city of Deir al-Balah.

The 12-year-old girl lost her parents and three brothers on November 14 after Israeli missiles hit the family home. about 15 km (nine miles) south of Loop City. The home – which consists orf Several huts covered with corrugated metal sheets flew to pieces.

The Israeli army said it pointed to the home of a military commander belonging to the armed Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, a complaint rejected immediately by the family of the victims.

Noor said that when he first heard the explosions he found himself running outside in an open field.

"I ran as fast as I could to the open land next to us," he told Al Jazeera. "I didn't know what happened and all I saw was a thick black smoke."

Her almond-shaped eyes blurred when she refused to say how she feels, two weeks after the bombing that turned her and her two younger brothers into orphans.

His sister, Reem, eight, and his brother Dia, six, also survived that night. The bruises were still visible on Reem's lower lip, nose and forehead.

"After sleeping that night, I just remember that I woke up in the hospital," he said.

Since then, Reem has had trouble sleeping at night for fear that the bombs will fall on her again. He said he often hears "zannana," which in Arabic means the buzz of Israeli drones flying above.

The bombing killed nine members of the al-Sawaka family: Rasmi Abu Malhous al-Sawaka, 46; his second wife Maryam, 45; and three of his 11 children: Mohannad, 12; Salim, three; and Firas of three months.

Rasmi's younger brother, Mohamed, 40, and his wife Yousra, 39, also died in the attack, in addition to two of their children: Waseem, thirteen, and Moaaz, seven.

Al-Sawarka victims were among the 34 Palestinians killed by Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip for two days, in an escalation of violence between Israel and Islamic Jihad last month.

False Israeli claims

The two sides began exchanging fire after Israel's assassination of the main commander of the Islamic Jihad Bahaa Abu al-Ata in Gaza. In response, Islamic Jihad fired rockets at southern Israel, and the Israeli army said it recorded more than 350 projectiles.

A ceasefire, allegedly negotiated by Egypt, was declared the morning after the attack by the al-Sawarka family.

Mohamad Awad, a member of the Bedouin al-Sawarka tribe and a family neighbor, told Al Jazeera that the Israeli bombing was a "war crime,quot; because Rasmi and his brother Mohamed were civilians and had nothing to do with any group armed.

"They raised sheep and barely arrived at the end of the month before they were killed," he said.

Awad denied Israel's claim that Rasmi was a member of the Islamic Jihad, and said he was an employee of the government of the Palestinian Authority (PA) based in Ramallah.

Mohamad Awad called the Israeli bombing of the house of al-Sawarka a "war crime,quot; (Ali Younes / Al Jazeera)

Awad called on international human rights organizations to investigate "Israeli crimes,quot; against innocent Palestinians.

"The world cannot remain silent about Israeli crimes against us," he said.

The Israeli army said it was investigating the incident and the "damage caused to civilians."

Immediately after the attack, Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee said on Twitter that the attack targeted the head of the Islamic Jihad rocket unit, whom he identified as Rasmi Abu Malhous.

"Rasmi Abu Malhous, leader of the Islamic Jihad and commander of the rocket unit in the central brigade in Gaza, was the target last night in the raid on Deir al-Balah," said Adraee.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an Israeli army official as saying that Adraee's claim appeared to have been based on false rumors spread online.

Awad said he is now helping Israeli human rights organization B & # 39; Tselem gather evidence and document witness testimonies to investigate the attack.

A B & # 39; Tselem official told Al Jazeera that the incident was under investigation.

Miracle

Awad said it was a "miracle,quot; that many of the children survived. "God was looking down on these children and saved them," he said.

After the bombing, he went to look for his cousin and the children and, in the thick smoke, he heard the muffled sound of a baby crying beneath the twisted metal ropes.

He said he picked up the rubble and found Farah, Rasmi's daughter, a month and a half old, lying in the sand, covered by a Metal sheet.

"Farah was crying when I lifted her on my arm and she was unharmed," he said. "God saved that girl."

All surviving children of al-Sawarka now live with family members and survive thanks to the help of humanitarian organizations.

The Gaza Strip has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade for more than a decade, which has severely restricted freedom of movement for its two million people.

Sawarka family

Israeli air strikes destroyed the house of the al-Sawarka family, leaving deep craters on the ground (Ali Younes / Al Jazeera)