Gaza: Palestinian mourns fiancee killed in Israeli air strike
Muhammed Saad left the home of his fiancee, Dania Adas, at around 2am after he finished helping her with her studies. When Saad arrived home, his father had already been on the phone with his prospective father-in-law.
"Dania is dying, call an ambulance," he told him.
Saad did not realise what had happened until he arrived at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where he was informed that Dania had been killed in an Israeli air strike on their neighbour’s home in the early hours of Tuesday.
Her sister, Iman, 17, was critically injured and succumbed to her wounds a few hours later.
The air strike targeted the home of Khalil al-Bahtini, a northern Gaza commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) resistance group, in the Shaaf area of eastern Gaza.
Bahtini was killed along with his wife Laila and his daughter Hajar.
"I helped her with her studies and we finished at 2am. Around 15 minutes later, the attack began," Saad told Middle East Eye, while standing amid the debris of Dania’s bedroom.
The walls of the room were destroyed, the window frames blasted out. The furniture was covered in stones and dust, while Dania and Iman’s colourful blankets could be seen beneath the debris.
"When I arrived home, my father was on the phone; he asked me ‘What happened? What did you do to Dania? She has been sent to the hospital’," Saad recalled. "He thought that we had fought or something else happened. We rushed to their home and found out that a massive air strike hit their neighbours’ home.
"They said that she was transferred to the hospital. We went there and looked for her, we asked people what hospital department she was transferred to, and someone told me she was in the mortuary.”
When Saad heard the word "mortuary", he fainted. It took his father and nurses a few minutes to wake him up.
“I still cannot imagine that she is gone. We were talking about our wedding just a few minutes before she died. We wanted to have two children. She dreamed about our wedding and even chose our first son’s name," he said.
“She wanted to name him after my father, Sameh, and although this was not the name I wanted, I agreed."
He said a few days prior to the attack she had taken his phone and changed his Facebook profile’s name to Abu Sameh (father of Sameh) and then she changed hers to Om Sameh (mother of Sameh).
Holding the box in which he presented Dania’s dowry, Saad said his life had stopped in the blink of an eye.
“She bought some clothes with the dowry in preparation for our marriage, but she still had not bought the gold yet. She wanted my mother to go and buy it with her," he said.
“This is a nightmare.”
A video recorded during the funeral and circulated on social media shows Saad crying and bidding farewell to the shrouded body of his fiancee.
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 19 Palestinians are thought to have been killed in strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, including four children and five women, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.
Air strikes were reported on Wednesday in several locations across Gaza, including in Rafah, Khan Younis, northern Gaza and other areas. Rockets were fired towards Israel shortly after, prompting sirens in Tel Aviv, Sderot, Ashkelon and cities near Gaza.
In his room - which was also damaged by the attack - Dania and Iman’s father, Alaa, was surrounded by journalists and cameras on Tuesday evening.
“We were sleeping and I woke up to the door of my bedroom blasting in and falling on our bed. The room was filled with dust and smoke, and I realised that something big had just happened,” he told MEE.
"I started shouting and calling my youngest son, Hamza, but he did not hear me, so I started shouting the girls’ names, and they too did not respond. I thought they were sleeping.”
The power went off in the neighbourhood and Alaa could not figure out what was going on.
“I went to the girls’ bedroom and I felt that it was doomsday. The room was completely destroyed and dark, dust and smoke were filling the room, and the girls were gone. I started looking in the rubble and I only saw their hair,” Alaa recalled.
“The neighbours came and helped me pull them out. Dania had already lost her life and Iman was critically injured,” their 52-year-old father said.
In the morning, Alaa saw Dania’s blood on the wall, and realised that she was thrown out of her bed and smacked into the wall before falling on the ground and being covered with rubble.
Dania was a second-year student of applied accounting at the University College of Applied Sciences in Gaza, and was preparing for her wedding after her final exams.
She shared one room with her younger sister Iman, who was close to Dania and worried about staying alone in the room after her sister’s marriage.
“I have three other daughters who are married. Dania and Iman were very close to each other, and Iman was really sad that her sister was getting married. She was saying that she would be the only girl at home,” ِAlaa said.
“Dania was dreaming of her wedding day. She got engaged around two months ago. Her engagement was traditional, and she had already started buying a lot of stuff in preparation for the wedding.
“My two girls were excellent at school, they both memorised the Quran and were very special. Iman was very outgoing and had a really strong character. But Dania was calm, shy and very tender-hearted. I have never seen a girl kinder than her.”
'Everything he had ever wanted'
Standing next to his son, Dania’s prospective father-in-law, Sameh, said that Saad loved her exceptionally.
“He loved the ground she walked on. He said that he found in her everything that he had ever wanted and dreamed of," said Sameh.
“Although they have been engaged for around two months only, we loved Dania so much because she was very polite and treated us as if we were her parents. She even called me Baba, and called my wife Mama.”
Sameh had booked his son’s wedding venue on the day Dania was killed. The wedding was due to take place on 21 July, just after Dania’s exams were over.
“I went with Muhammed and we booked a wedding hall. When we returned, Muhammed told her and she said she wanted the party to be in a chalet," he said.
“We did what she wanted. We cancelled the first booking and we booked a chalet. This is one day of their life and it must go the way they wish."