JULY 30, 2014
EARLY MORNING, AL-TUFFAH
In the morning, Mahmoud gathers his children and grandchildren and starts sending them off to houses of relatives located further away from the border with Israel. It is almost impossible to find a car, there is a severe fuel shortage and drivers are afraid to enter neighbourhoods close to the combat zones and targetted areas. The al-Khalilis need more than one car – there are 30 people waiting to be evacuated.
Mahmoud, his wife Nailah, their daughter and three sons get into a car. Ashraf and his younger brother Ahmed with their families are the last ones waiting for a ride. Ahmed’s wife Aya is pregnant; they have a four-year-old daughter Lama. “Just leave as fast as you can, be ready to jump into the car when it arrives” – Mahmoud tells his sons and drives off. The two families sit in the garden in front of the house, waiting.
9:35 AM, IN THE GARDEN
Israeli soldiers fire two tank shells. The shells fall and explode in the garden where Ashraf, Ahmed and their families are sitting. The factory quickly catches fire which spreads onto the house. Seven-year-old Mahmoud, Ashraf’s son, does not lose consciousness, not during the explosion and not when the fire engulfs his family. Later, in the hospital, he will slip into a coma.
9:40 AM, IN THE CAR
Still in the car, Mahmoud’s phone starts ringing. It is another of his daughters, who lives in al-Tuffah and whose family has not evacuated yet. She cries into the phone “Everyone is dead.”
INSIDE AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL MORGUE, GAZA CITY
Green plastic bags are supposed to hide the charred corpses. But an arm, sticking out from under the plastic, indicates the state of Khalilis’ remains. Another plastic bag shrouds three people, presumably Nida’a and her two children, burnt, disfigured and glued together. Ibrahim, 18-year-old brother of Ashraf and Ahmed, is trying to identify the bodies. He cannot recognize his loved ones.
OUTSIDE AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL MORGUE, GAZA CITY
Another al-Khalili brother, 20-year-old Ismail, is crying in pain in front of the morgue of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza.
AUGUST 3, 2014, AL-ARISH, EGYPT
Mahmoud, who was sent to Egypt for treatment, dies from burns that cover all of his body, before reaching a hospital.