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December 3, 2002

'Blind, deaf father blown up inside house'

From: Independent Online, South Africa - 03 Dec 2002

By Justin Huggler

Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip - Beside the pile of flattened concrete that was all that was left of his home, Maher Salem told how his 68-year-old deaf and blind father was killed when the Israeli army demolished the house on top of him.

When he found his father, Salem said, the old man's head was "like a bar of chocolate, it was only two centimetres thick".

The Israeli army swept into Beit Lahiya, a sandy town in the north of the Gaza Strip, late on Saturday. The man they came for was Salem's brother Hisham, a senior Islamic Jihad militant and the man who ordered a suicide bombing in 1996 that killed 20 Israelis.

The army didn't catch him. Instead, they demolished his family home. It was a six-storey house: three generations of the family lived here. On Monday, all that could be seen was a huge, layered mound of smashed concrete.

The old man was asleep on the sixth floor when the army came. He was deaf, Salem said, and could not hear the soldiers shouting for everyone to come out.

Fathiye Salem, the old man's niece, said: "I shouted at the soldiers, 'my uncle is sleeping on the sixth floor, he's deaf'.

"Then the soldiers put dynamite inside the house and blew it up," she said. - Independent Foreign Service

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