'It was like doomsday': Palestinians remember Israel's 'Black Friday' Gaza massacre eight years on

'It was like doomsday': Palestinians remember Israel's 'Black Friday' Gaza massacre eight years on
Eight years have passed, but the events of the 'Black Friday' massacre are still fresh in Gazans' minds.
3 min read
02 August, 2022
After eight years, the Israeli massacre on 'Black Friday' is still fresh in Gazans' minds [Getty]

Eight years on and residents in Rafah, a city in Gaza's south, still remember the painful events of Israel's Black Friday massacre, committed on 1 August 2014. 

Mohammed al-Jazzar, a 52-year-old father of three, lost his wife and four children on that fateful day. 

"It was a mass killing operation against civilians who did not have any means to defend themselves," Al-Jazzar told The New Arab.

"At the beginning of the Israeli aggression, I left my home in the eastern part of Rafah because of the random Israeli attacks." 

Days later, the Israeli army and Palestinian armed factions announced a brief humanitarian ceasefire so Al-Jazzar decided to return to his home and inspect possible damage to the building. He had not reached it when the Israeli bombing resumed.

"Suddenly, even without any prior notice, I heard a heavy explosion around me and then the sky was filled with black clouds... the Israeli missiles fell everywhere around me for hours," he said. 

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He kept himself prone to the floor as the bombing intensified. When the explosions ended he opened his eyes to find body parts of his wife and children scattered everywhere. 

"I lost my family and 20 of my relatives without committing any sin," he said. 

"It was a mass killing against the civilians," said Mohammed al-Hashash, another Rafah resident who lost eight members of his family during the massacre. 

He said Israeli war jets targeted densely-packed Rafah neighbourhoods with more than 100 missiles in just a few hours, as helpless women, children, and elderly screamed in terror. 

"Neither I, nor any other men, had the power to save [our] relatives. All of us were surrounded by the barrage of Israeli missiles launched from warplanes in the sky, tanks on the ground, and even warships at sea," the man explained. He described 1 August as "doomsday".

Both al-Hashash and al-Jazzar were transferred to Rafah's Martyr Mohammed Najjar Hospital via animal-drawn carts due to a shortage of ambulances following repeated Israeli attacks.

Ismail al-Saafine, 45, a driver of an ambulance damaged during an Israeli attack, told The New Arab: "The Israeli army targeted everything on the ground including our vehicles, so we used the animal-drawn carts as well as motorbikes too."

"Our mission was so difficult as dozens of people were killed and remained in the streets. We only checked about the wounded ones to transfer them to the hospital," the ambulance man recalled. 

The situation worsened when Israel threatened to bomb the hospital as doctors treated injured civilians. 

The Black Friday massacre came after the United Nations announced a three-day armistice, which was suddenly breached by Israel, according to an Amnesty International report released in 2015. 

The Israeli army launched its 51-day assault on the besieged Gaza enclave in July 2014, killing at least 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounding more than 6,000 others.