A brother, a sister, and a morgue too full for them both

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The Independent Online

They lived their last moments together, feeding pigeons on the roof of the building where they lived in the Tel Sultan section of Rafah's refugee camp. But in death brother and sister were separated because, even before the demonstrators were mown down yesterday, bodies had been coming in so fast that the hospital'smorgue could not accommodate both children.

They lived their last moments together, feeding pigeons on the roof of the building where they lived in the Tel Sultan section of Rafah's refugee camp. But in death brother and sister were separated because, even before the demonstrators were mown down yesterday, bodies had been coming in so fast that the hospital'smorgue could not accommodate both children.

Ahmed Mughayer, 14, was laid out with 13 other corpses on the floor of the refrigeration room of a flower and plant growers' firm on the outskirts of town. Dr Ahmed Abu Nkaira removed the sheet and raised Ahmed's trunk for us to see where the bullet had made a small incision on his forehead just above his hairline. Then he pointed to the exit wound, a much larger and bloodier hole in the back of his head.

Earlier, back at the hospital, he had brought out the body of Asmaa, his 16-year-old sister, to show us similar wounds.

Dr Nkaira wasn't doing this for the sake of it. He wanted reporters to see how untenable had been the Israeli army's official explanation that the Mughayer siblings been killed by an accidentally exploded Palestinian bomb.

The bodies showed no sign of any other damage or bleeding. No damage at all, apart from what Dr Nkaira - an experienced casualty medic in a hospital which has seen more dead bodies than most in the occupied territories - had not a scintilla of doubt was a wound from an Israeli bullet.

Apart from being cleaned the siblings had been carefully preserved as they were when they were killed at 11.30 the previous morning because the family, like all the other residents trapped in Tel Sultan by one of the most lethal military incursions into Gaza, were unable to leave the camp to see and bury their dead.

"This is the 'accident' that the Israelis are talking about," he said. "This is how the Israelis talk all the time. I am sorry the Europeans and the Americans believe these kind of stories."

By no means all the bodies in the refrigeration room at the plantation, where a bed of white carnations was just beginning to flower, were those of civilians. Four were draped with the green cloth of Hamas, three the black and yellow of Islamic Jihad, and one with the yellow of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, clear testimony that eight of the bodies were militants shot by the Israelis.

But nor was Ahmed Mughayer the only dead child. Dr Nkaira exposed the head of 14-year-old Ibrahim al Qun, killed when a bullet entered the back of his head and blew out his right eye on exit. He did not know the circumstances in which Ibrahim had died.

And when he got back to the hospital he produced yet another child's body, this time of a thin 13-year-old boy, Sabr abu Libdu, brought in yesterday, the gun wound which had killed him visible on his chest.

Upstairs in the hospital, Sabr's older brother Ayub, 27, described how Sabr and his other brother, Yusef, had ventured out to get some water, when they were both shot. As Yusef lay in a critical condition in the intensive care unit, Ayub tried to take in the death of one brother and the potential loss of another, before his face creased in silent weeping.

"I suppose he was a member of the resistance," Dr Nkaira said, unable to contain his sarcasm after covering up Sabr's body once again.

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