“She came in through the front door and it wasn’t clear she was injured. Suddenly a lot of blood came from her nose and she vomited, all of the family saw this — her little brothers were very scared. She had just been playing in the front of the house.”
That is how Nihed al-Massry describes what happened to her daughter, nine-year-old Samah Eid al-Massry, after the Israeli army reportedly shelled and fired four bombs into and around a residential area in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, on 21 July. Samah is now being hospitalized in serious condition, suffering from extensive blood loss and very low haemoglobin. She was hit by shrapnel and flechettes from a nail bomb that landed 100 meters away, causing internal bleeding to the chest and severe head trauma. Nails are now embedded throughout her body.
Shells containing flechettes are illegal under international law if fired into densely-populated civilian areas. Three other children were wounded in the attack.
Two young men were killed; Muhammad al-Kafarneh, 23, suffered severe shrapnel injuries to the back and chest and Kasim al-Shinbary, 19, was wounded by nails embedded in his skull and shrapnel his back. It was unclear earlier whether they were resistance fighters or if they were civilians.
Haitham Thaer Qasem, a four-year-old boy and an only child, was asleep on a hospital bed, occasionally gasping for breath through the apparatus around his nose. He had suffered deep nasal trauma, and flechette darts from the bomb were still embedded in his tiny body, through his back, right elbow and right leg. He was 200 meters from the impact of the bomb.
Haitham’s mother was standing off to the side, quietly crying while one of his aunts at his bedside explained what happened.