The Palestinian family ‘executed’ in their home by Israeli forces

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Witnesses increasingly report deliberate and indiscriminate Israeli shooting of civilians, including pregnant women
Married couple Fatima and Ahmed al-Khaldi, who were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza City on 21 December 2023, pictured with their two sons, Adam (L) and Faisal (R) (Provided)

Trapped in Gaza City’s Shaikh Ridwan neighbourhood, the Palestinian al-Khaldi family rushed to the ground floor of their home as Israeli forces bombed nearby, thinking that would be the safest spot.

An Israeli air strike then hit the house next door around 1pm on Thursday, killing some of the neighbours and wounding Fatima al-Khaldi, a mother of two.

But it was too late at that point to flee or attempt to reach the hospital, as Israeli tanks encircled the area and soldiers were getting closer.

The house was sheltering around 30 people, including some who were displaced earlier in the war from other parts of the city.

At around 8pm, Israeli soldiers arrived.

“Without regard for women, children, or the elderly who were sleeping, [they] lobbed two grenades into the house,” said Fahed al-Khaldi, Fatima’s brother-in-law, who was in southern Gaza at the time.

“They then opened fire directly at people and in an indiscriminate manner, without differentiating between young and old,” al-Khaldi added, relaying the event as told to him later by his brother Mohammad.

Five people died immediately, including Ahmed, Khaled’s other brother and Fatima’s husband. One of their sons, Faisal, was wounded.

“Whoever is still alive, get out of the room now,” the soldiers said, according to Fahed.

‘The soldiers then returned to the room and executed all the injured’

– Fahed al-Khaldi, Gaza resident 

The survivors, among them Fahed’s older brother Mohammed, were then queued in the yard of the house, before being stripped of their clothes.

After they were frisked and interrogated, they were given specific directions by the soldiers to flee if they wanted to live.

They left, fearing for their lives, and left behind those killed and wounded.

“The soldiers then returned to the room and executed all the injured,” Fahed said.

Fatima, who was pregnant, was left to bleed to death.

Faisal, her four-year-old son wounded in the raid, survived and was later taken to al-Shifa hospital.

Palestinian child Faisal al-Khaldi, four, wounded by Israeli fire on 21 December 2023 in Gaza City (Provided)
Palestinian boy Faisal al-Khaldi, four, wounded by Israeli fire on 21 December 2023 in Gaza City (Provided)

There, his uncle Mohammed was shocked to hear that the young boy needed six surgical operations, which doctors at the hospital – destroyed earlier by Israeli forces – did not have the resources to perform.

Faisal’s intestine and bladder were ruptured and he remains in critical condition at al-Shifa, according to Fahed.

“I posted many appeals on social media and through journalists and tried to contact the International Committee of the Red Cross to move Faisal to another hospital in the south but all that went in vain,” he said.

“All we want now is to urgently treat Faisal.”

Field executions

Two days after the horrifying encounter, Mohammed went back to the area after Israeli forces withdrew.

He counted the bodies of nine people in the house, including Ahmed, Fatima, his elderly blind uncle, his wife and others.

The story of the al-Khaldi family was confirmed by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, which says it has documented many similar field executions by Israeli forces in recent days.

The killings are taking place in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip – areas placed under a media blackout and cut off by Israeli soldiers from access to hospitals and basic needs.

Flattened homes in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, on 21 December 2023 (Leo Correa/AP)
Flattened homes in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, on 21 December 2023 (Leo Correa/AP)

Now as Israeli troops retreat from some locations, surviving residents are revealing details of the shocking crimes committed against them.

The Palestinian government media office on Saturday said it had received testimonies about at least 137 Palestinians executed by Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip.

In some cases, groups of people were lined up in a pit dug by Israeli forces, before being shot and then buried in mass graves, the media office said.

Other instances included the killing of pregnant women walking to the hospital and waving white flags, as well as men shot and killed in front of their families.

The Euro-Med Monitor said it has documented at least nine different instances where groups of civilians were shot and killed without posing a threat to Israeli forces.

Middle East Eye could not independently verify these claims.

‘[Alleged summary killings] raise alarm about the possible commission of a war crime’

– UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 

However, the Israeli army admitted earlier this month to killing three Israeli captives in Gaza who were shirtless, waving a white flag, and calling for help in Hebrew.

Last week, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it “received disturbing information” about one of the cases of alleged summary executions.

The killings were confirmed, the UN agency said, but verification of the circumstances were still under way.

“The Israeli authorities must immediately institute an independent, thorough and effective investigation into these allegations, and if found to be substantiated, those responsible must be brought to justice,” OHCHR said in a statement.

It added that the occurence of killings “raises alarm about the possible commission of a war crime” and comes “in the wake of earlier allegations concerning the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians at the hands of Israeli forces”.

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