Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

ISPT081

Incident date

May 16, 2021

Location

قرب جسر وادي غزة, Vicinity of Wadi Gaza Bridge, the Gaza Strip

Geolocation

31.455341, 34.414767 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

One civilian, a man, was killed and two others, women, were reportedly injured by IDF artillery fire that struck a house near the Wadi Gaza Bridge in the Central Gaza Strip around 4 a.m. on the morning of Sunday 16th May 2021.

Multiple sources, including Al Haq and Al Mezan, report multiple artillery shells being fired towards the area, striking a two-storey house. Khaled Salem Hasan al-Masalha, aged 49 or 50, was killed in the strike, which injured his wife Amal Salem Abd Rabbo (al-Masalha), aged 42, and daughter in law Hind Maher, aged 22. According to Al Haq, their injuries were light. Several sources including Al Jadeed report that the person killed was a ‘Palestinian youth’, although these reports appear to have been superseded as further information came to light.

B’Tselem provided testimony from Amal Salem Abd Rabbo (al-Masalha): “On Sunday, 16 May 2021, at around 3:30 A.M., my husband Khaled was sitting in bed smoking a cigarette. I was next to him. Ayman and Hind were in their room, and the rest of the kids were with my mother-in-law, who lives next door. When we heard the muezzin call for dawn prayers, I said to my husband, “Get up and wash for dawn prayers.” He said, “I’ll just finish the cigarette and go.” Suddenly, I heard something fall on the house and the room filled with dust. Stones fell and scattered all over the room. I looked around and couldn’t see anything. Everything was full of dust. After five minutes, the dust settled and I saw my husband’s face. He was badly wounded in the head. I went out of the room and screamed. My son Ayman came out of his room at the same time and when he saw his father, I heard him say, “Oh my God!” I looked down at the prayer robe I was wearing and saw it had blood and bits of my husband’s flesh on it. I was shocked and started screaming hysterically. Ayman helped me downstairs and took me to his grandmother’s house. We left my husband as he was. About half an hour later, an ambulance arrived. It came late because there was massive artillery shelling and shells had landed in our area. When the ambulance arrived, there was another shelling, and the driver reversed and stopped by one of the houses to avoid getting hit. The Israeli military also fired flare bombs over the area. Ayman went up to our house with two paramedics, and they brought my husband down on a stretcher and put him in an ambulance. Later, I saw that parts of his head had remained on the bed. The ambulance drove to a-Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital, and Ayman and another relative of ours named Hassan went with him. My daughter-in-law Hind and I also went in an ambulance to hospital, where she was examined because she’s pregnant. She was in good condition. I was hysterical and the doctors gave me oxygen, a sedative and an anesthetic. I stayed in hospital until 6:30 A.M. Then some relatives came and took Hind and me to my brother-in-law Tareq’s house in a-Nuseirat Refugee Camp.”

The two-storey property hit in the strike was home to 25 people, according to Al Haq and Al Mezan.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (MAITIC), an Israeli research organisation, also reported that Khaled al-Masalha had been killed by Israeli artillery fire. MAITIC also affiliated him with Fatah, reporting that the Fatah Hani al-Hassan sub-branch in the central Gaza Strip had issued a mourning notice for him on their Facebook page, calling him a Fatah member.

All of the source attributed the strikes to Israel.

The incident occured at approximately 4:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (3)

  • Amal Salem Abd Rabbo 42 years old female injured
  • Hind Maher 22 years old female Niece of Amal injured
  • Khaled Salem Hasan al-Masalha 49-50 years old male killed

Family members (
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1)


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Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Israeli Military

Sources (30) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • Strikes on Wadi Gaza area on May 16th, 2021. (Image posted by @PalinfoAr)
  • Strikes on Wadi Gaza area on May 16th, 2021. (Image posted by @PalinfoAr)
  • Strikes on Wadi Gaza area on May 16th, 2021. (Image posted by @PalinfoAr)
  • Strikes on Wadi Gaza area on May 16th, 2021. (Image posted by @PalinfoAr)
  • Khaled Salem Hasan al-Masalha, aged 49 or 50, alleged to be a member of Al Fatah, was killed in strikes on Wadi Gaza area on May 16th, 2021. (Image posted by Ghayad Al-masalha via Facebook)
  • Khaled Salem Hasan al-Masalha, aged 49 or 50, alleged to be a member of Al Fatah, was killed in strikes on Wadi Gaza area on May 16th, 2021. (Image posted by Maher Abu Jomaa via Facebook)
  • Ayman al-Masalhah point to the hole ripped by the shell in the roof of the al_Masalhah home. Photo by Khaled al-'Azayzeh, B'Tselem

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in the vicinity of Wadi Gaza Bridge. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Wadi Gaza Bridge are: 31.455341, 34.414767.

Israeli Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Israeli Military
  • Israeli Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Israeli Military

Sources (30) [ collapse]