Testimonies of Mu’az Subuh and Baraa Subuh
Military fires missiles at four buildings late at night, killing 46 people (part 1)
In two adjacent buildings, 22 members of the al-Kolak (al-Qolaq) family were killed:
In one building, eight members of the family were killed:
In the adjacent building, 14 members of the family were killed:
In the third building, which belongs to the Abu al-‘Oaf family, 22 people were killed:
In the fourth building, the al-Ahlam building, about 500 meters away, two occupants were killed:
Some members of the famimly spell their name with a K (al-Kolak), while others spell it with a Q (al-Qolaq).
Testimony of ‘Azzam al-Kolak, 41, a father of four who lost 22 members of his family
I now live with my wife and our children at my parents’ house, which is behind the house I had on al-Wehdah Street, in the a-Rimal neighborhood. I lived in it with my wife and our four children: Lana, Ahmad, Mahmoud and Zina. The building had three floors. On the ground floor, our family had shops and businesses and we all worked there. We lived on the third floor. My brother Muhammad and his wife Dalal lived on the second floor with their children: Hala, Yara, Rula and ‘Abdallah. My brother ‘Izzat and his wife Du’aa lived on the first floor with their three children: ‘Aziz, Zeid and Adam.
My uncle Amin, his wife Sa’diyah and their children lived in the building next to us. My uncle was a pensioner. He used to work at the Ministry of Public Works. His son Shukri owns the Ajwaa Paint Company, his son Muhammad is a clerk with the Ministry of Public Works, his son Fawaz owned a supermarket under the building, and his daughter Bahaa worked at a kindergarten.
After the war started, I following the events and moved between my apartment and my parents’ house. We sat together and followed the news. There was the constant sound of airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip, and we could hear the sirens of ambulances taking wounded people to a-Shifaa Hospital. We led an almost normal life, but were constantly anxious and stressed because of the airplanes and the powerful blasts caused by the shelling and missiles. The general atmosphere was one of sadness and depression. We left the house only if we had to, for instance to buy food at my cousin’s supermarket.
On Sunday, 16 May 2021, at around 1:00 A.M., my wife and I were getting ready for bed and our children were already asleep. We heard a very loud explosion. The building literally shook. My wife and I grabbed the kids and sat down in the middle of the apartment. Then we heard another very loud explosion and the apartment walls cracked. We were terrified and were scared the walls would fall on us. Then we heard another blast, even louder, and felt our whole building plummet to the ground, simply collapse. We didn’t know what was going on and how something like that could happen. I saw the walls break and the water tanks fall to the ground.
The electricity went out after the second explosion. Then, after the third one, I turned the flashlight on my phone on and went to the front door. But when I got to the stairs, I couldn’t find them. All I could see were piles of concrete. I went back to the living room, and then I saw that the kitchen door was ajar. When I peeked through the crack, I saw my cousins and neighbors, and they all shouted to me to get out of there. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to get down from the third floor, but then I saw I was only one meter above the ground. My apartment had fallen from the third floor to the ground.
I took my wife and kids outside. They were all barefoot and in shock. Afterwards, I couldn’t see anything any more because there was complete darkness. I took my wife and kids to my parents’ and then went back to our building. I saw how the bombing had destroyed it, my uncle Amin’s three-story building and the Abu al-‘Oaf building, which is about 60 meters away from ours. Then I found out that many residents of the three buildings were no longer alive.
Along with everyone else there, I started helping the Civil Defense team search for casualties, remove debris and get the dead and wounded out from under the ruins. Checking who was out, who’d been left behind, who was alive and who was dead. I walked around and checked on my brothers and relatives to see who was still under the rubble. After we took out the bodies and the wounded people, we started salvaging electrical appliances and gold that my brothers and I had.
It was a massacre. A disaster brought down on us for no reason and without justification.
In a single moment, in the blink of an eye, we lost 22 of our loved ones. They were all innocent. We received no warning before the strike. They fired suddenly, without prior warning. We’re ordinary citizens and aren’t affiliated with any organizations, so it took us completely by surprise. Our lives revolve around home and work. We’re still in shock by what happened to us. We’re in a nightmare. How can we believe that we lost 22 family members in one fell swoop, that our homes are gone? They have destroyed the rest of our lives.
- Testimony given to Muhammad Sabah on 30 May 2021