Military fires missile, killing 10-year-old on her way home
The person killed

Dima ‘Asaliyah, 10

Testimony of Dima’s father, Sa’ed ‘Asaliyah, 44, a father of eight:

On Wednesday, 19 May 2021, at around 8:00 P.M., my daughter Dima, 10, went to her sister Dyana’s, 26, to get a baking pot. My wife was making pita bread and needed the pot. Dyana’s house is 50 meters away from ours. I was standing on the roof and saw Dima coming back with the pot.

Just then, there was a loud explosion behind our house. I thought the missile had hit farmland about 20 meters away. There was a huge ball of dust and fire, and the force of the blast knocked me down. I didn’t think for a moment that the plane had struck my little girl.

I immediately called the Civil Defense services and told them there’d been a bombing by my house and there might be people wounded or dead. I looked out at the main street to give them instructions where to go to, and then I saw a body lying on the ground. I still didn’t understand who it was. I told the ambulance driver that there was a body down below and asked him to wait a moment so I could climb down from the roof and check who it was. I went down and walked towards the body. Then I found it was my daughter Dima. I saw her lying dead, motionless. Meanwhile, my brothers and neighbors arrived, but I got to her first.

Dima 'Asaliyah

I was in shock. I stood there and didn’t know what to do. I picked her up, but still didn’t know what to do. My brother Sa’id took her, put her in my brother Fathi’s car and drove her to hospital. After he drove off, I went inside to evacuate my family, because I was afraid there would be another bombing. Meanwhile, the ambulance arrived, but there were no more dead or wounded so he drove away.

My brother Sa’id called me from the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza and told me that Dima had arrived at the hospital lifeless and that she was dead. I started crying and screaming and reciting verses from the Quran. Why did they hit Dima? She was just a young girl holding a pot. It’s a horrifying crime against an innocent girl. Dima was my life and the flower of the house. She was the youngest. My home has become dark. Every child who comes into the house reminds me of Dima. Everyone loved her, family, neighbors, friends.

Today, the school principal and her teachers came to comfort us. They gave us her report cards. Everyone cried, the teachers and her friends. My wife held the report cards and hugged them and cried. I wish Dima were still with us, and could go to school to bring the report cards herself.

  • Testimony given to Olfat al-Kurd on 3 June 2021
Sa'ed'Asaliyah

I went down and walked towards the body. Then I found it was my daughter Dima. I saw her lying dead, motionless.

Testimony of Dima’s uncle, Sa’id ‘Asaliyah, 41, a father of eight:

On Wednesday, 19 May 2021, at around 8:00 P.M., I was at home. I live next to my brother Sa’ed. Suddenly, I heard a loud explosion nearby. I thought it was in the field next to us, but my wife told me the bombing had been closer. I opened the door and saw dust and sand. I went out quickly and found my nephews outside. They said it had hit the wall of my brother Sa’ed’s house. I saw Sa’ed talking to an ambulance driver, and he told me he thought someone had been hit in the bombing. We didn’t know who it was.

Sa’ed walked ahead of me and before we even got there, we saw the explosion had hit the wall of his house. As we approached the body, Sa’ed saw it was Dima, although it was hard to recognize her because of the shrapnel. He picked her up but stood there in total shock. He didn’t move or speak and didn’t know what to do. I took her and started running left and right, because I didn’t know what to do either. Sa’ed was standing still and didn’t move or talk.

My brother Fathi’s car was parked by the house. I put Dima in it, and we drove to the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza. When got there, I took Dima to the ER and laid her down on a bed. The doctors examined her and after a few minutes, pronounced her dead. They immediately put her in a refrigerator. I felt immense sorrow and pain. Dima was only a little girl and was killed barbarically. What was she guilty of? What crime did she commit? I cried bitterly for Dima. I can’t stop thinking about her.

My brother Sa’ed came to the hospital and was in a terrible state. The next day, we laid her to rest. I carried her. Those were the hardest moments of my life. My brother Sa’ed couldn’t cope with parting from his daughter. He was in total shock and didn’t know what to do.

About an hour before Dima was killed, she’d been in my house because her sister Dyana is married to my son. I saw her singing and dancing with my daughters and nieces. It was the last time I saw Dima. It didn’t cross my mind that an hour later, she would become a martyr. What did she even do to the Israeli military? What was she guilty of? Why kill her in such a barbaric way?!

She was always a happy child. What I remember most is her mischief. But since she was killed, we’ve had no joy. There are no games, and the children don’t gather to play together. Everything is quiet and silent. I hope her mother and father will learn to be patient, that they grow stronger, and that she will be a bird in heaven.

  • Testimony given to Olfat al-Kurd on 3 June 2021

Sa'id 'Asaliyah

The next day, we laid her to rest. I carried her. Those were the hardest moments of my life.

Testimony of Dima’s mother, Dunia ‘Asaliyah, 43, a mother of eight:

On the evening of 19 May 2021, the power came on. I wanted to use the opportunity to bake bread and made the dough. I wanted another electric baking pot, so I could finish before the power was cut off again, so I sent Dima to get a pot from her sister, who lives next door. Dima went over there with candy in her hand.

After 10 minutes, I heard a very loud explosion by the house. The windows shattered, including in the kitchen. I was terrified. I said I was leaving and taking Dima to the UNWRA school. My husband said I should go to his brother’s house before there was another attack. I went to get dressed, and then I heard someone say something about Dima. I rushed outside and saw a car driving away. My husband Sa’ed was standing there, and then he told me Dima had been killed. I collapsed. I was in shock. I started reciting: “We are the servants of Allah, and our fate is to return to him.” Everyone around me was praying and I wept. 

I was up all night. I prayed for her. I couldn’t believe what had happened to her. How could she not be by my side anymore? When I saw her body, I couldn’t believe it was her. Her injuries were so severe, and her face was distorted. It burned my heart. I kissed her. I wanted to take her body and show everyone the Israeli military’s crime, what they’d done to her, how they distorted her appearance, and how they’d taken her from me.

Three hours before Dima was killed, she told me she was scared of the bombings and wanted to leave the house and go to one of the shelters that had opened at the schools. She came to me with her bags, ready to leave. Dima was terrified because the bombings were very close to us. She watched everything that was happening on her phone, the wounded civilians and the martyred children. I was scared, too, and wanted to say yes, but my husband said the schools weren’t safe. We were there in the 2014 war, and it wasn’t a safe environment. They were marked as targets. It was also very uncomfortable there because the schools were not built to shelter refugees.

Dima was my youngest daughter. She was the only one still at home, and all her sisters are married. They can’t believe she was killed. My husband saw her right after she was killed. He keeps looking at photos of her and misses her so much. She was the princess of our neighborhood. Since she was killed, the neighborhood has been quiet. Every day, the neighbors’ girls come and cry over her. I cry with them and tell them that Dima is in a better place than ours, that she’s in heaven. My granddaughter Rihab, 6, keeps asking about her and can’t understand why she doesn’t come back.

Everything in the house reminds me of Dima. Her clothes, the games, her school bag, her books. On graduation day at her school, her teachers and friends came over to pay their respects and gave us her report card. I wish Dima could go to school herself to get the report card, like all her friends.

I keep thinking, how did she stand the pain? What exactly happened to her when the missile hit her? Did it hurt? Did she call for her father or for me? What was she doing at that moment? I can’t get those questions out of my head. It’s a nightmare I can’t shake.

Dima was a happy child and loved to play. She had a big smile and captivated us all. Whenever I’d come home, she’d run to me and call me, and I’d hug her. I always gave her sweets. She’d sleep next to me, and I’d stroke her at night to make sure she was okay. I’ve lost her forever, and I’ve lost her smile.

I look out the window and see children playing, and then it hurts and I start crying. I say to myself, “Where’s Dima? She always played here with her girlfriends. Dima has gone, she’s left me.” I keep asking myself, will I forget her one day?

Dima was a target in the Israeli military’s target bank. That’s their target bank, a little girl just starting her life.

  • Testimony given to Olfat al-Kurd on 6 June 2021

Dunia 'Asaliyah

I keep thinking, how did she stand the pain? What exactly happened to her when the missile hit her? Did it hurt? Did she call for her father or for me? What was she doing at that moment? I can’t get those questions out of my head. It’s a nightmare I can’t shake.