Military fires mortar shell at house, killing man
The person killed

Khaled Hassan Salem al-Masalhah, 49

Testimony of his widow, Amal al-Masalhah, 40, a mother of three:

Until the war broke out, I lived with my husband and my children: Ayman, 23, his wife Hind, 22, who’s seven months pregnant, ‘Abdallah, 22, Lina, 20, Salem, 15, Ibrahim, 14, and Yusef, 11.

On Sunday, 16 May 2021, at around 3:30 A.M., my husband Khaled was sitting in bed smoking a cigarette. I was next to him. Ayman and Hind were in their room, and the rest of the kids were with my mother-in-law, who lives next door. When we heard the muezzin call for dawn prayers, I said to my husband, “Get up and wash for dawn prayers.” He said, “I’ll just finish the cigarette and go.” 

Suddenly, I heard something fall on the house and the room filled with dust. Stones fell and scattered all over the room. I looked around and couldn’t see anything. Everything was full of dust. After five minutes, the dust settled and I saw my husband’s face. He was badly wounded in the head. I went out of the room and screamed. My son Ayman came out of his room at the same time and when he saw his father, I heard him say, “Oh my God!”

I looked down at the prayer robe I was wearing and saw it had blood and bits of my husband’s flesh on it. I was shocked and started screaming hysterically. Ayman helped me downstairs and took me to his grandmother’s house. We left my husband as he was.

About half an hour later, an ambulance arrived. It came late because there was massive artillery shelling and shells had landed in our area. When the ambulance arrived, there was another shelling, and the driver reversed and stopped by one of the houses to avoid getting hit. The Israeli military also fired flare bombs over the area.

Ayman al-Masalhah point to the hole ripped by the shell in the roof of the al_Masalhah home. Photo by Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem

Ayman went up to our house with two paramedics, and they brought my husband down on a stretcher and put him in an ambulance. Later, I saw that parts of his head had remained on the bed. The ambulance drove to a-Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital, and Ayman and another relative of ours named Hassan went with him.

My daughter-in-law Hind and I also went in an ambulance to hospital, where she was examined because she’s pregnant. She was in good condition. I was hysterical and the doctors gave me oxygen, a sedative and an anesthetic. I stayed in hospital until 6:30 A.M. Then some relatives came and took Hind and me to my brother-in-law Tareq’s house in a-Nuseirat Refugee Camp. 

We buried my husband before noon at the a-Zawaydah cemetery in central Gaza. He was a farmer who worked odd jobs, and most of the time was unemployed. He had asthma, for which he needed medication and an inhaler. Sometimes, our sons would help support the family. They would go out to the streets, collect plastic waste and sell it for five or ten shekels.

  • Testimony given to Khaled al-‘Azayzeh on 30 May 2021
, Amal al-Masalhah, 40
Amal al-Masalhah

Then they brought out my wife Suddenly, I heard something fall on the house and the room filled with dust. Stones fell and scattered all over the room. I looked around and couldn’t see anything. Everything was full of dust. After five minutes, the dust settled and I saw my husband’s face. He was badly wounded in the head. I went out of the room and screamed.