Military fires missile, killing two minors and a man
The persons killed

Muhammad Ahmad ‘Atiyyah Bhar, 17
Seif a-Din Hani Muhammad Abu al-‘Ata, 18
Yihya Bassem Ahmad al-‘Ajleh, 24

Testimony of Mahmoud al-‘Ar’ir, 24, Yihya’s cousin:

On Saturday, 15 May 2021, at around 1:30 P.M., I was home. I went to my paternal aunt’s house, which is on a side street off the main street where Yihya lived. On the way, I met my paternal cousin Muhammad, 21, and stopped to chat with him. A few minutes later, I heard a very loud explosion. I ran to the site of the bombing on the main street and saw the missile had landed at the entrance to Yihya’s house. A small TV repair business next door had also been hit. 

On the road next to me was the body of the martyr Seif Hani Abu al-‘Ata. Not far from him lay Muhammad Bhar, who was still breathing. I rushed to Yihya’s house and saw some young guys carrying the brothers Majd and Muhammad al-‘Ajleh, Yihya and Seif Fadel Abu al-‘Ata. We gave them first aid on Yihya’s uncle’s bus. Two other wounded people were treated inside an Electric Company vehicle. Then we took all the martyrs and wounded people to a-Shifaa Hospital. 

I was shocked by the sight of the martyrs and the wounded people. They were all very badly injured. Yihya’s injury was particularly severe, he had shrapnel in his neck and back. Majd was also very badly injured in the head and stomach and is being treated at a hospital in Hebron. His brother Muhammad was injured in the legs and is still being treated at a-Shifaa Hospital. Muhammad a-Zaqut has medium-level injuries in the shoulder and leg. 

יחיא באסם אחמד אל-עג'לה, בן 24
Yihya al-‘Ajleh

I wanted to visit Yihya in hospital, but he was unconscious and they wouldn’t let me see him. The hospital wanted to transfer him to al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, but the Israelis didn’t approve it. I saw Seif Abu al-‘Ata and Muhammad a-Zaqut, who were doing well. I went to Yihya’s mother’s house, who’s my paternal aunt, to support her and see how she was doing. Yihya was my friend and we had a very strong bond. I hoped Yihya would recover and come home to his family, but it wasn’t meant to be. 

After 18 days in the ICU, on 3 June 2021 at 3:00 A.M., we were informed that he had passed away. I couldn’t believe it. I went immediately to my aunt’s house. All my relatives, neighbors and friends were there. My aunt, her husband and her sons were screaming and crying. I was heartbroken over my beloved friend Yihya. At 11:00 A.M., an ambulance brought his body home so we could say goodbye to him there. When I saw him, I fell to the floor and cried. I couldn’t touch him because I was in such shock. We took him to the mosque and there, I hugged and kissed him. All around, the mourners were wailing and everyone was crying over Yihya. 

Yihya was always smiling. When I looked at him after he died, it seemed like he was smiling. We’d been friends since we were little kids. We met every day and hung out together, at my place or at his. We would go out at night, and in the morning walk to the beach for sport. Now that he’s dead, I feel lonely. I’ve lost a very precious person. Life after his passing is a life without laughter or smiles. I still can’t believe I’ll never see him again. 

  • Seif a-Din Abu al-‘Ata was an operative with the Islamic Jihad military wing, but it is unknown whether he was the reason the military bombed the house.
  • Testimony given to Olfat al-Kurd on 2 June 2021
Mahmoud al-‘Ar’ir

I went to my paternal aunt’s house, which is on a side street off the main street where Yihya lived. On the way, I met my paternal cousin Muhammad, 21, and stopped to chat with him. A few minutes later, I heard a very loud explosion. I ran to the site of the bombing on the main street and saw the missile had landed at the entrance to Yihya’s house.

Testimony of Lubna Bhar, 50, a mother of six including Muhammad:

During the war, there were internsive airstrikes near our house in the neighborhood of a-Zeitoun in Gaza City. We were terrified, so my husband and I escaped with our three children who still live with us – Hanadi, 25, Majdi, 23, and Muhammad, 17 –  to my son ‘Atiyyah’s house. He lives with his wife and three-year-old daughter in a rented apartment in the neighborhood of a-Shuja’iyeh.

On Saturday, 15 May 2021, I was making lunch at my son ‘Atiyyah’s house. Muhammad was standing next to me and he said, “I love you, Mom.” He kissed me, headed downstairs and went out to buy some things at a shop nearby. It was 1:30 P.M. The moment he left, I heard a loud explosion. I screamed and called out, “Muhammad!” I looked out the window and saw dust and smoke on the street. I hurried downstairs and found Muhammad lying in the doorway, bleeding.

I screamed for help, and Majdi came and picked him up. Muhammad was crying and saying, “I want Mom and Dad.” Majdi told him to recite the Shahadatain. Muhammad was taken to hospital in a private car, along with other martyrs and wounded people. It was a massacre at my son’s doorstep. The stairs were full of blood. I will never forget the sight.

Majdi went with Muhammad to a-Shifaa Hospital, and I stayed home. My husband drove after them and every time I called him or my sons, they told me Muhammad was fine. But I sensed that he wasn’t okay, that I’d lost him.

Two hours after he was injured, I went to the hospital, too. I sat by the entrance to the operating room, reading the Quran and praying for him. The doctors told me to pray because his condition was unstable. I still had hope. At 11:00 P.M., I suddenly heard Majdi shouting. I ran over to him and heard everyone saying Muhammad was dead. I saw Majdi lying over Muhammad’s body, crying and screaming, “Why did you let Muhammad go?!”

Lubna Bahar holding up her son's photos. Photo by Olfat al-Kurd, B'Tselem

I told the doctors to check on Muhammad, that maybe he was still alive. I felt I was losing my mind. I over up to Muhammad and screamed. I couldn’t believe what had happened. Only then, I saw my husband lying on the floor unconscious. The doctors were treating him. I fainted, too, and when I woke up I was told they’d already transferred Muhammad to the morgue. I went there and sat in front of the fridge for two hours, by Muhammad’s side. Then I hugged his body. I couldn’t say goodbye to him. I stayed there all night.

At 6:00 A.M., I went back to Atiyyah’s house. They brought Muhammad’s body there so we could say goodbye to him. They laid him before me and I scattered flowers over him, hugged him and kissed his head and face. Then they took him away. I couldn’t say goodbye and ran after him along the road, holding onto him. Those were extremely difficult moments. My heart broke. I wish I had died instead of him. Since he died, life has turned black. He was my youngest son and the dearest to my heart.

He was a happy, smiley person. He loved soccer and used to play with the kids in the neighborhood. He also loved riding his bike and riding horses. My husband even bought him a horse. After Muhammad was killed, the horse died.

Since Muhammad was killed, I’ve been unable to go on living. I cry day and night. I try to escape the memories, but it’s impossible. I don’t eat. I’ve given away all my clothes and only wear black. Muhammad was everything to me, and I have no life without him. My relationship with him was special. I can’t describe it. I’ve kept some of his clothes and touch them every day to feel his smell. 

I left the house in a-Zeitoun and moved in with my son ‘Atiyyah to be close to Muhammad’s grave, so I can visit him every day. I give out sweets and chocolates to kids by the grave. I tell Muhammad that I’m waiting for him and ask him how he could abandon me. I keep imagining him opening the door and hugging me.   

  • Testimony given to Olfat al-Kurd on 29 June 2021

Muhammad Bhar
Lubna Bhar, 50, a mother of six including Muhammad
Lubna Bhar

The moment he left, I heard a loud explosion. I screamed and called out, “Muhammad!” I looked out the window and saw dust and smoke on the street. I hurried downstairs and found Muhammad lying in the doorway, bleeding.