Middle East

Horror as Gaza handicapped care facility is bombed

A Palestinian searches the rubble of a center for disabled, that is littered with posters soliciting donations to support the Al Mabara association for handicapped run by Hamas, after an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 12, 2014.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)

GAZA CITY: Twenty-year-old Palestinian Sally Saqr lies in a hospital bed in Gaza’s Shifa hospital with burns that have turned her cheeks an angry pink beneath her ventilation tube.

She survived an Israeli strike in the early hours of Saturday morning that hit a care home for Palestinians with special needs.

Two of her fellow residents were not so lucky.

Thirty-year-old Ola Washahi and 47-year-old Suha Abu Saada were killed when the rocket slammed into the home, destroying it.

The two women’s body parts were still being pulled from the rubble hours later, causing initial confusion over whether another person had been killed.

The facility’s director, Jamila Alaywa, was unable to contain her fury as she described the tragedy that has befallen the center she set up in 1994.

“Both Ola and Suha had severe mental and physical handicaps, and had been living at the center since it was founded,” she told AFP.

The building in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahiya housed 13 residents, including some who were on weekend visits at their family homes when the strike hit.

Five residents and a helper were inside, screaming in terror as the building collapsed around them.

“They didn’t understand what was happening and they were so frightened,” Alaywa said.

“They fired the rocket and it hit us without any warning. There was no warning strike with an empty rocket,” she said.

Israel has said it tries to minimize civilian casualties by firing a small missile at a target first, to give non-combatants a chance to leave.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strike on the care home.

“Ola and Suha’s bodies were torn into pieces,” Alaywa said. “We never imagined that something like this could happen.

“There is no one in the residence or anyone around us that belongs to the resistance.”

The two women are among more than 160 people killed since Tuesday, when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge aimed at halting rocket fire from militants in the Gaza Strip.

The aerial campaign has also wounded more than 1,000 people.

For the time being, the wounded residents of Alaywa’s care home remain in hospital.

Sally and 28-year-old Ahmad al-Awar are in intensive care, being treated for serious burns.

Alaywa has made arrangements for the residents who were away to remain with their families for now, and is hoping to find places at another charity for her wounded charges when they recover.

But she pleaded for help to ensure the home would be rebuilt.

“I hope that the world will help me. I want to rebuild my association and to be able ... to take care of these people – they are my children.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 14, 2014, on page 9.




Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here