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Gaza Survivor's Twitter Timeline Reveals the Slow Horror of the Massacre at Khuza'a

From the Israeli Red Cross Twitter account, "Yesterday we helped hundreds of people to evacuate from affected areas in #Gaza #BeitHanoun #Shujaia #Khuzaa"

From the Israeli Red Cross Twitter account, “Yesterday we helped hundreds of people to evacuate from affected areas in #Gaza #BeitHanoun #Shujaia #Khuzaa”

Reports of an apparent massacre and massive destruction in the cut-off Palestinian town Khuza’a, 500 metres from to the Gaza-Israel border, have been coming in since Tuesday, July 22. 

Most reporters covering the Israeli operation in Gaza have not made it to Khuza'a, a town of 9,700 people. This area in the south is cut-off from the eyes and ears of the world, but one young resident – Mahmoud Ismail, has been tweeting horror stories in Arabic from the village.

One tweet said “snipers are centered on top of buildings in Khuza'a, targeting anyone trying to leave his home.” Another said, “Khuza'a is gone, there are hundreds injured and bodies all over the streets and under ruins. No one knows numbers.” Later he tweeted, “Red cross ambulances standing two kilometres away from Khuza'a. Injured are running two kilometres to get treatment.”

Many people have retweeted his words hundreds of times, while translations of his tweets have also been retweeted dozens of times.

A total of 800 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,200 injured since Israel launched an operation in Gaza 18 days ago. As civilian death tolls mount, Israel’s military says it is warning Gazans living in targeted areas to leave, but Palestinians have no where to go. The narrow 40-kilometer-long coastal strip is surrounded by fences and concrete walls along its north and east with Israel and on its south border with Egypt.

Khuza'a has no water, food and safe shelters, according to a first-hand account published on the progressive Jewish news site Mondoweiss. The Palestinian Center of Human Rights which has been publishing daily reports of the Israel offensive said in their July 23 report: Israeli forces maintained their incursion into Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, and there are reports that there are dozens of Palestinian casualties in the village, and medical crews were denied access to them.  When many civilians attempted to leave the village, Israeli forces fired at them, killing 4.

On July 24, Red Cross ambulances were finally allowed to enter the village and an Al Jazeera crew accompanied them; this Al Jazeera video shows bodies lying on the street and rescue teams searching through rubble.  

Here are the haunting tweets Mahmoud Ismail has been posting from Khuza'a since Monday:

في بيوت انقصفت ومش معروف إذا فيها ناس أو لأ. المنايك بيستهدفوا كل شي بيتحرّك. محدّش قادر يساعد حدا. والصواريخ وشظاياها بتضرب كل شي. حرفيًا

@Ibn3arbi: There are houses that have been bombed and we do not know whether there are people inside them or not. The f***ers target anything moving. No one can help anyone. Rockets and shrapnel are hitting everything. Literally.

القصف على خزاعة مستمر من 13 ساعة. حول بيتي بس في 10 شهداء تصفى دمهم بسبب عدم إسعافهم. عشرات العائلات محاصرة والجيش بيضرب نار ع كل حدا بتحرك.

@Ibn3arbi: Non-stop shelling on Khuza'a for 13 hours. Around my house alone, there are 10 people killed. They were bleeding to death because they were not rescued by ambulances. Tens of families under siege and the army is shooting anyone moving.

الدبابات محاصرة البلد من جميع الجهات بدون ما تتعمق لجوّا لكن القنّاصة متمركزين على أعلى عمارات بخزاعة وبيستهدفوا أي شخص بيحاول يخرج من بيته

@Ibn3arbi: Tanks are surrounding the town from all sides without getting deeper in but snipers are centered on top of buildings in Khuza'a, targeting anyone trying to leave his home.

أسماء شهداء أستطيع تأكيدها: سليمان قديح وابنه أكرم قديح، تيسير قديح وابنه محمود، حلمي أبو رجيلة وابنه عبّاس، جهاد قديح، ابراهيم أبو رجيلة.

@Ibn3arbi: Names of martyrs I can confirm: Slaiman Qadih and his son Akram. Tayseer Qadih and his son Mahmoud. Hilmy Abu Rjila and his son Abbas. Jihad Qadih and Ibrahim Abu Rjaila.

منايك الصليب حكولنا إنهم واقفين ع أول البلد مستعدين يخلونا ولمّا كل الناس راحوا هناك مكانوش ولقوا الجيش وفتح نار وتصاوبوا عشرات.

@Ibn3arbi: The Red Cross told us they are at the entrance of the town and are ready to evacuate us. When everyone went there, they didn't find them. There was the army who started shooting at them and injured tens.

خزاعة راحت

@Ibn3arbi: Khuza'a is gone

أنا وأهلي طلعنا. إصابة طفيفة. في مئات الإصابات وجثث في الشوارع وتحت الأنقاض. محدّش بيعرف العدد

@Ibn3arbi: My family and I got out. I got a small injury. There are hundreds injured and bodies all over the streets and under ruins. No one knows numbers.

بيوتنا إنقصفت ع روسنا. بيوت كل أهل خزاعة

‏@Ibn3arbi: Our houses are bombed over our heads. All the houses of Khuza'a.

إسعاف الصليب واقف 2 كيلو بعيد عن خزاعة. المصابين بيجروا 2 كيلو علشان يتم اسعافهم.

@Ibn3arbi: Red cross ambulances standing 2 kilometres away from Khuza'a. Injured are running 2 kilometres to get treatment.

الكثير من شهداء خزاعة كانوا أصيبوا ونزفوا حتى الموت في انتظار اسعافهم. راقبت من شباك غرفتي ولساعات كل مراحل موت فتى في العشرين من عمره

@Ibn3arbi: Many martyrs in Khuza'a were killed after being injured and bleeding to death, waiting for ambulances. I watched from my room's window for hours all the death stages of a man in his 20′s.

طبيب واحد في البلدة، كمال أبو رجيلة، بذل جهد جبار مع الاصابات التي كانت تصل عيادته بإعجاز حتى بعد أن تم قصف عيادته وإصابته واستشهاد والده

@Ibn3arbi: One doctor in town, Kamal Abu Rjila, made great efforts with injuries coming to his clinic. Miraculous. Even after his clinic was hit and he was injured and his father killed.

الجيش استخدم حوالي 10 عائلات كدرع بشري ضد نيران المقاومة. كل البيوت التي سيطر عليها منع سكانها من المغادرة أو تحصين أنفسهم في غرف أفضل

‏@Ibn3arbi: The [Israeli] army used 10 families as human shields against the resistance fire. They did not allow anyone to leave the buildings they controlled. They did not even allow them to move to safer rooms.

تم قصف البيت الذي كنت أحتمي فيه مع 50 رجل وطفل وامرأة. نجوت وعائلتي بمعجزة ولا أملك أدنى فكرة عما حل بالآحرين لكن حذائي ابتل تماما بدمائهم

@Ibn3arbi: The house that I was seeking refuge at with other 50 men, women, and children was hit. I survived with my family in a miracle. I have no idea what happened to others but my shoe is soaked with their blood.

أمام عيني سقط طفل صغير كانت تحمله أمه بيد وباليد الثانية ترفع راية بيضاء. ابنها مات. استخدمت الراية ككفن وأكملت طريقها مع باقي أطفالها. رعب.

@Ibn3arbi: With my own eyes, I saw a woman holding a small child in her hand and a white flag in the other. Her son died and she used the flag as a shroud and continued walking with the rest of her children. Horror.

في الطريق الذي سلكناه وجدت جثة عمي وابنه ملقاة في الشارع بجانب بيتهم. كان القناصة يستهدفون الناس في أقدامهم في محاولة لمنعهم عن الهروب

@Ibn3arbi: On the way we took out, we found my uncle and his son dead on the sidewalk by their house. Snipers were targeting people's feet to prevent them from escaping.

خزاعة ما فيها كهربا من 60 ساعة. والجيش (وشظايا قذائفه) استهدف خزانات المياه على أسطح المنازل. الأطفال معنا بكوا حتى الإغماء بسبب العطش

@Ibn3arbi: Khuza'a has no electricity for the past 60 hours. The [Israeli] army and its shrapnel targeted water tanks on roofs. Children were crying and fainting because of thirst.

القصف المدفعي كان يتم بشكل عشوائي ولا أي شيء في العالم يمكنه أن يقنعني بعكس ذلك

@Ibn3arbi: The bombing was being done randomly. Nothing in the world can convince me otherwise.

ابن عمّتي استشهد أثناء محاولته إنقاذه أخيه المصاب والملقى في الشارع. الاثنين استشهدوا فوق بعضهم.

@Ibn3arbi: My cousin was killed when trying to rescue his injured brother in the street. They died together.

الوضع كان مرعب ومأساوي وأي محاولة لوضعه بكلمات ستكون مبتذلة ولن تعطي المجزرة حقها. أنا وأهلي خرجنا أحياء لكنني لا أملك أدنى تفسير كيف وليش.

‏@Ibn3arbi: The situation was horrifying and tragic. Any attempt to put it in words won't describe the massacre enough. Me and my family got out alive but I have no explanation how and why.

‏كل هذا الموت وهذه الاصابات هي من تعداد ما بقي من السكّان أي حوالي 3 آلاف. 70٪ من أهل خزاعة كانوا قد هربوا وأخلوا بيوتهم قبل المجزرة بليلة.

@Ibn3arbi: All this death and injuries happened to the 3,000 people left in this town. Seventy per cent of Khuza'a's inhabitants escaped and evicted their houses a night before the massacre.

ولسّا في جثث في الشوارع. ولسّا في مصابين بيستنوا يصيروا جثث. ولسّا في ناس عالقة مش قادرة تطلع

@Ibn3arbi: There are still dead bodies in the streets. Still injured people waiting to become dead bodies. Still people stuck and cannot get out.

If you scroll back a few months on Ismail's timeline, he was tweeting inspirational videos, some featuring Maya Angelou, lots of football and music videos,  including a hypnotic Yemeni blues song and stories about the troubles Gazans go through trying to cross the Rafah border into Egypt.

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