Nearly all the Palestinian civilians killed and wounded by the one-ton air force bomb used to assassinate Salah Shehadeh, head of Hamas's military wing in the Gaza Strip, were killed in their apartments in two and three-story buildings.
Despite army claims the day after the bombing that most of those killed had resided in shacks built in the surroundings of the Shehadeh building, a visit to the site shows that all those killed lived in sturdy buildings and not in shacks. The only shack-like structure in the compound was a chicken coop.
Three of the dead, from the Al Hawati family - Mona, 22, Subhi, 5, and Muhammed 3 - lived in a single-story building that did have a tin roof, but was not a shack. It had several rooms and was made from cement and cinder blocks. The building remained standing, but the roof was blown away.
All the rest of the dead, six members of the Matar family, two of the A-Shawa family, and Shehadeh's wife, child and aide were killed in three apartment buildings standing next to each other, each three floors high.
Only Shehadeh's building was obliterated, but the blast destroyed all the possessions inside the buildings, and wounded and killed the residents. All the other buildings in the vicinity of the blast were also damaged, some extensively.
Survivors yesterday wandered through the destruction, some wounded, some still in shock.
Yesterday afternoon, Rami Matar, who lost his baby daughter, Dina, was released from hospital still unaware his child had been killed. His brother, Ra'ad, wandered wounded through the rubble. He lost his wife, Iman, and three children, Dalia, 5, Muhammed, 3, and Iman, 1. His father, Muhammed Matar worked for 30 years at the Yakhin canning factory in Ashkelon and still carries a certificate of appreciation from the factory in his pocket. He lost his daughter, daughter-in-law, and four of his grandchildren.
Asked if he sought vengeance, he shook his head and said that was up to God. All he would say to Ha'aretz was: "Look what they did to us, after all the years we worked for them."
Most of the casualties were asleep when the bomb landed on the apartment buildings in the middle-class neighborhood of Daraj, not far from Tufah. One resident said he had heard the approaching plane; others said they had woken to a flash of light and the thunder of the blast. One said she had been certain it was an earthquake.
All said they had never seen Shehadeh in the neighborhood and had not known that he had been using the apartment as a hideout. His wife and daughter usually resided in Shati refugee camp.
Apparently obliterated by the bomb, Shehadeh's body, and that of his wife and child, were not found in the rubble.
Iman Matar's body was found two days after the blast, after she was thrown, still in her bed, dozens of meters away into the courtyard.
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