Gaza – Abeer Harb waited six hours for her fiancé’s body to be rescued from under the rubble.
The 24-year-old had only been engaged to Ismail Dweik since June, and the couple were busy making preparations for their wedding, when an Israeli air attack destroyed Ismail’s home, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Ismail, a 30-year-old ready to start a new life with Abeer, was killed on August 6, on the second day of Israel’s three-day bombardment of the narrow coastal enclave, which has faced numerous assaults during a now 15-year Israeli blockade.
He was among the 49 Palestinians killed in the latest round of fighting, which Israel said targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group active in Gaza. Nearly half of those killed were civilians, Palestinian officials have said.
Abeer told Al Jazeera that Ismail’s family had invited her family for lunch, but that they had not gone because of the fighting.
Ismail told her that he would instead come and visit her soon, but it was a trip he was not fated to make.
“News started coming out about a house bombed in Al-Shaout camp, where my fiance’s family lived,” Abeer said. “I immediately grabbed my phone to call him, but he didn’t answer. I got scared and started crying so hard.”
According to his family, Ismail had returned home moments before the bombing, and was killed along with his mother. The attack appeared to target the home of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s commander in southern Gaza, Khaled Mansour.
“My eyes did not close all night as I watched the process of pulling out the bodies and the wounded from under the rubble,” Abeer said, as she struggled to speak while crying. “I was praying to God that Ismail would still be alive. I said to myself that I’d be satisfied if his leg was amputated or anything. The most important thing would be that he was still alive.”
“I was devastated hearing the news. I felt like my life had been stolen from me,” Abeer said. “My fiancé, Ismail, was very kind and generous and he had prepared a modest house for us.”