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Homes and Lives Shattered in Palestine – the story of Mahmoud Nimer al-Bahtetee

The narrative below is the second in a series of three stories documented by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Grassroots International partner since 1996. PCHR has gained an international reputation as an independent voice on human rights documenting abuses carried out by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Raji Sourani, the founder and director of PCHR, recently received the Right Livelihood Award (known as the Alternative Nobel Prize). The PCHR documents human rights violations, provides legal aid to victims, advocates for greater economic and social rights,and in particular, defends the rights of Gazan fishers who are routinely denied access to their fishing waters by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Homes and Lives Shattered in Palestine – the story of Mahmoud Nimer al-Bahtetee

Two days before an Israeli drone injured Najwa Alyan Abu Daqqa,on November 28, 2012, two separate missile attacks aimed at the Civil Department of the Ministry of the Interior destroyed the home of Mahmoud Nimer al-Bahtetee a 62 year old man who shared the home with 27 members of his family, 13 of them children.

He described the incident to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights: « During the first attack, we were all sleeping in the house as it was very early in the morning. When the attack happened, the windows of the house broke from the impact and, as they shattered, pieces of glass fell on some of the children. »

This year, Israeli bombings of civilian facilities like the home of Mahmoud have damaged or destroyed 613 houses. These homes sheltered over a thousand families with 2,608 children amongst them. Food supplies and agricultural resources that civilians rely on to feed themselves were also destroyed in the attacks including a greenhouse, an agricultural storage building, and irrigation networks.

Mahmoud Nimer al-Bahtetee explains, “Watching my grandchildren crying and injured was the most horrifying part for me. One of my grandsons, who is just one and a half years old, has not spoken since the day the attack happened, and my 16 year old daughter is traumatized by the whole experience. Now, every time she hears a loud noise she runs up to my wife and starts crying on her shoulder.”

During the 8-day “Pillar of Cloud” operation in November of 2012, PCHR field staff worked around the clock to document violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. At great risk to themselves , they travelled to the site of the airstrikes. They worked day and night to ensure that the terrible human toll of these attacks will not be ignored by the world. We are grateful for their extraordinary efforts, and we will continue to support them.

PHOTO: Mahmoud Nimer al-Bahtetee stands outside his severely damaged  building.