A video making the rounds on social media shows a Palestinian man getting shot and killed by a sniper while he is searching for lost relatives in the rubble of his Shuja’iyah home. Shuja’iyah has been under intense Israeli bombardment for more than a day, with harrowing stories and images reported by the international media. Journalists have reported seeing bodies strewn on the street, often entire families —parents and children—shot down as they were running away.
In this particular video, a Palestinian man accompanies a group of rescue volunteers back to the neighborhood during a lull in the bombardment. He is looking for his family, which has not been heard from since the intense bombardment of the neighborhood, located in eastern Gaza City, began on Saturday. At first he stands against a wall on the street, calling out their names. But when there is no response he scrambles on to the pile of rubble that used to be his home. At that point there is a shot that makes them pause, followed by silence. Then, just as one of the female volunteers says, “I’m scared,” there is the sudden crack of another shot and the young man flops down, wounded but not dead.
The man is still alive, moving his arms and murmuring the Shihada, the Muslim affirmation of faith (“there is no God but God,” similar to the Jewish Shema or “Hear O Israel”), when the sniper shoots him once more. And then again. In the background, one can hear the foreign volunteers shouting into a mobile phone, “But what the fuck should we do? They’re going to shoot us all if we move.”
UPDATE: The New York Times reports that the dead man’s name is Salem Khaleel Shamaly. He was 23 years old. His family—which, unbeknownst to him, had evacuated the area and were staying with a relative—learned of his death when they saw the video on television. He was their only son.
It’s almost unbearable to watch. What’s going on in Gaza right now is just pure barbarism. Shelling hospitals, shooting at ambulances and killing the drivers, shooting journalists, shooting at children playing soccer on the beach or feeding birds on a roof — and deliberately murdering a young man as he scrambles in the rubble of his home to find surviving relatives.
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