Israeli missile kills eight watching World Cup semi-final at café

Gaza health ministry says most of at least 100 killed in Israeli air strikes are non-combatants, half are women and children

Remains of the Fun Time Beach bar at Khan Younis beach, Gaza, where nine friends were watching the World Cup when they were struck by a fatal Israeli strike | Robert Tait, Telegraph

Remains of the Fun Time Beach bar at Khan Younis beach, Gaza, where nine friends were watching the World Cup when they were struck by a fatal Israeli strike | Robert Tait, Telegraph

Khan Younis (July 10) – They never lived to see the final score.

Inside the Fun Time Beach café on Gaza’s Mediterranean shore, nine friends and siblings gathered around a portable television powered by a generator to watch Argentina take on Holland in the semi finals of the World Cup.

At 11.30pm, half an hour into the match, an Israeli missile blasted through the flimsy roof of the tumbledown structure to scatter the social gathering in bloody mayhem.

The strike killed Mohammed Fawana along with three sets of brothers – Ahmed and Suleiman Astal, 18 and 16, their cousin Musa, also 16, Mohammed and Ibrahim Ganan, 24, and 25, and Hamdi and Ibrahim Sawaleh, 20 and 28.

A third Sawaleh brother, Salim, 23, was still missing on Thursday, with giant earth moving machines upturning huge quantities of sand in a search for his body.

Robert Tait, Telegraph


Bilal al-Astal recounts bombing that killed 9 in Gazan café, where he and others were watching a World Cup match

Searching for bodies in the sand the day after the airstrike. Photo: Fares Akram, 10 July 2014

Searching for bodies in the sand the day after the airstrike | Fares Akram, 10 July 2014

Yesterday, Wednesday 9 July 2014, after I ate the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast and prayed the a-Tarawih [Ramadan] prayer, I went to the Waqt al-Marah café [a.ka. Fun Time Beach] to watch the soccer World Cup semi-final between Holland and Argentina. The café, owned by the a-Sawali family, is constructed of palm fronds. It’s on the Khan Yunis beach, in the al-‘Izbeh area, about 30 meters from the water and 200 meters from the first line of houses. There were about 13 people at the café, all men. We knew that Israeli airplanes were bombing several places in the Gaza Strip at the time, but we thought that the café was safe.

We watched the first half of the match together. We drank tea and coffee and there was a relaxed mood. We didn’t hear any airplanes nearby. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion. By the time I realized what was happening, I found myself buried under a pile of sand and dirt. I choked on the sand and could hardly breathe. I manage to get my head out of the sand. The rest of my body was stuck and I started calling for help. It was dark, but I could see that most of the café had been destroyed. It had simply disappeared, replaced by a huge hole in the ground. The people who had been inside were buried under the sand.

A few minutes later, neighbours and ambulance teams reached the site and tried to get the injured people out. People dug around my body and pulled me out of the sand. I was taken to hospital by ambulance. My legs were severely injured. My whole body is bruised. The doctors examined me in the hospital and took X-rays. They found that my legs had serious fractures. Some of the bones were crushed.

People who visited me in hospital told me that nine people were killed in the bombing. Three of them were my relatives. Two other relatives were injured, one of them an 11-year-old boy. I’m still in hospital.

Bilal Walid al-Astal, 41, father of nine, lives in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. He gave his testimony by phone to Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem’s field researcher in Ramallah, on 10 July 2014.

The café’s shop sign. Photo: Fares Akram, 10 July 2014

The café’s shop sign | Fares Akram, 10 July 2014

 

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