- RAFAH -- The tiny hole buried
under Asma Mughayar's thick black hair, just above her right ear, is an
illusion, according to the Israeli army. So is her family's insistance
that Asma, 16, and her younger brother Ahmed, were both shot through the
head by an Israeli soldier as they fed their pigeons and collected the
laundry from the roof of their home in Rafah refugee camp.
- But their corpses tell a different story, as do the bodies
of other children brought to Rafah's hospital and makeshift mortuaries
even before yesterday's carnage, in which Israeli tanks and helicopters
fired on a peaceful protest by Palestinians in the camp, killing 10 demonstrators,
according to Palestinian paramedics.
- Israel disputes the Mughayar family's account: that soldiers
shot the children on Tuesday. Hours after their death, Israeli officials
blamed the Palestinians, telling reporters that Asma and Ahmed had been
killed in a "work accident" - a euphemism for bomb-makers blowing
themselves up - or by Palestinian fighters who had left a landmine in the
- "A preliminary investigation indicates they were
killed by a bomb intended to be used against soldiers. It was set outside
a building by Palestinians to hit an Israeli vehicle. This is probably
what happened," a military spokesman said yesterday.
- Dr Ali Moussa, head of Rafah hospital, is as furious
at the claim as he is at Israel's assertion that almost all the 20 or more
people killed during the army's seizure of the Tel al-Sultan district of
the Rafah refugee camp were armed men.
- "They are liars, liars, liars, because these children
have bullet wounds to the head. There is no doubt about it," he says.
- Dr Ahmed Abu Nkaria, who pronounced the Mughayar children
dead, insists on proving the manner of their killing. He pulls Asma's body
from the mortuary's refrigeration unit and fumbles through the teenager's
hair to reveal the hole where the bullet entered above one ear and ripped
a much larger wound as it emerged above the other.
- "The Israeli propaganda is that they were killed
in a work accident. These are the kinds of lies they tell all the time,"
he says. "They say all the dead are fighters. They say they do not
deliberately kill children, but about a quarter of the dead from the first
day of shooting are children. The evidence is here in the morgue. Does
this girl look as if she was blown up by a bomb?"
- Asma's body lies in the hospital mortuary unburied, like
all the other dead from Tel al-Sultan, because their relatives are trapped
in their homes by a curfew. Her 13-year-old brother's corpse is a short
drive away in the cold-storage room of an Israeli-owned flower-growing
- Small boy
- Ahmed lies with 14 other bodies. Some are wrapped in
the flags of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, but
Ahmed is swaddled only in the white sheet wrapped around him in the ambulance.
He was a small boy who could not easily be mistaken for a man.
- Dr Nkaria rolls the child over to show a tiny round hole
in his forehead, just above his fringe. There is a much larger hole at
the back of the head where the bullet came out. Neither Asma nor Ahmed
show signs of any other injuries, particularly of the kind that might be
expected from a blast, such as shrapnel spread across the body, burns,
- "This is what the Israelis claim is a 'work accident',"
Dr Nkaria says.
- He points to the corpse of another youth in the cold-store."This
is Ibrahim Alqun. He is 14 years old. He was shot in the back of the head.
The bullet came out of his right eye," he says. The child's face is
badly mutilated by the wound.
- The bodies of the children continued to pile up in the
- Saber Abu Libda, 13, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers
after he left his home in Tel al-Sultan in the morning to find water for
- Dr Nkaria's finger probes a tiny hole in the small child's
back which masks the devastation done to his heart as the bullet shot through
- "No one can say this child was a fighter. Look at
the size of him and look where they shoot him - in the back, not coming
to attack someone," the doctor says.
- Saber stepped out of the door with his 16-year-old brother
Yousef. He too was shot, but has survived so far, with critical chest injuries.
- A third brother, Ayub, ran out to save his younger siblings
and was also cut down by the snipers.
- "My brothers only went out for water," Ayub
- "We heard the gunshots and I went to their rescue.
They were both lying there bleeding and I was shot in the arm.
- "We tried to pull Yousef to the house, but we couldn't
and he lay there bleeding for half an hour until the ambulance came."
- Other children are luckier. Twelve-year-old Ahmed Hussein
looked out of his window in Tel al-Sultan on Tuesday afternoon. A sniper's
bullet hit him in the shoulder. The bullet passed through a fleshy part
and hit his aunt in the hand.
- "I thought the Israelis had withdrawn. I went to
the window to see. I wanted to get out of the house and they shot me,"
he says in his hospital bed.
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