At approximately 20:50 on Friday, 15 February, a huge explosion rocked El-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The explosion occurred in the house of Ayman Atallah Ahmad Fayed (41), an activist in Al-Quds Battalions, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. The explosion destroyed the ground-floor concrete house completely, killing the activist, his wife Marwa Azzam Fayed (39), and three of his children: Basma (12), Ali (17), and Ayyoub (5). A fourth son, Adam (15) was seriously injured. In addition, three of Fayed’s neighbors were killed: Zakaria Nabil El-Kefafi (17) who was in Fayed’s house at the time, Talal Salah Sa’id Abu El-Oun (16), and Atallah Samir Mohammad Ismail (24). Approximately 60 people were injured, including 23 women and 20 children. Among the injured are 14 people suffering serious injuries. The explosion destroyed 6 nearby houses completely, and caused extensive destruction in 10 other houses. Dozens of houses suffered damages.Not only "some" media outlets, but every single Palestinian Arab "news" outlet reported this as an Israeli bomb (usually being shot as a rocket from an F-16) and not one even mentioned the possibility of a "work accident."
Over the past three days, PCHR and Al-Mezan have conducted a preliminary investigation in this tragedy. The Center’s fieldworkers and lawyer gathered field information and eyewitness testimonies from the scene of the tragedy. The preliminary findings point to the following:
- There is no evidence to confirm that the explosion was caused by rocket or aerial bombardment by Israeli occupation forces (IOF), as mentioned in some media outlets. It is more likely that it was an internal explosion the circumstances of which are unclear as of yet. Eyewitnesses confirmed seeing smoke and fire issue from Fayed’s house seconds before the explosion. According to similar incidents in the past, this indicates that it may have been an internal explosion.
Of course, PCHR still holds out the hope that it might have been an Israeli booby-trapped bomb that killed and injured all those people - a highly unlikely possibility, and even if it was true the majority of the damage would have been from the secondary explosions caused by the possibly hundreds of rockets in Mr. Fayed's basement.
I adjusted the death count to account for the large number of minors killed, meaning that out of the 25 Palestinian Arab self-deaths this year, fully 10 of them are women or children.