Israel-Gaza conflict: Dawn air strike kills three in mosque after ceasefire breaks down

Despite a warning from the military, men had been inside preparing for dawn prayers

Nusseirat

Israeli bombing this morning destroyed one of the largest mosques in central Gaza, killing at least three Palestinians preparing for dawn prayers, including the father of a severely injured ten year old boy blinded in an earlier strike on their home a week ago.

Two bulldozers are searching through the mountain of rubble left by the F16 air strike on the Al Qassam mosque in the heart of the crowded Nusseirat refugee camp for the last of four men who had been in a room set aside for customary washing before prayers when the bomb struck shortly after 3am.

Among the three bodies recovered was that of Nidal Badran, 44, who had been desperately hoping that his son Mohammed, who is currently in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital suffering from  serious cranio-facial injuries, including the loss of his sight, would be transferred  for urgently needed surgery to Europe. Six others of Mr Badran’s children were also injured in the earlier strike.

With continuing deadlock in efforts to reach a peace deal, the air strike was one of 30 launched today by Israel, another of which killed two men on a motorcycle, and militants launched at least 15 rockets at towns in the south of Israel. A third Israeli strike on a Hamas security complex created a large cloud of smoke in Gaza city but caused no casualties.

The three men died unaware that a warning had been telephoned by the Israeli military to a local resident warning that the mosque was about to be destroyed and that they should leave their building immediately.

The local Imam Mohammed Ali Mousa, 45, said he had just arrived at the mosque after leaving home at around 3.05 am and that a neighbour had rushed into the mosque to warn him but that he had been unable to alert the other worshippers before leaving. “I was about four minutes away as it was bombed,” he added.

Yahya al-Tawil, 53, the  resident who received the telephone call —and immediately alerted neighbours including his married brother— said that he had  been fast asleep when the phone rang. “A man’s voice said in Arabic, using my name: ‘Yahya. This is Mousa from the Israeli Mukhabarat (intelligence). I want to warn you that you have five minutes to leave the house because we are going to hit the mosque.”

Mr al-Tawil, the frontage of whose house abutting the mosque was also demolished in the strike, said that he and his brother had then frantically woke up the  entire family group of 35 including 19 children out of their beds and got them out of the building. The other dead men were named as Tareq Jadallah and Moadh Zayed while the one still buried under the rubble was said to be Zuhdi Abu Alrus, 24, who neighbours said had recently married and had a one month old child.

As neighbours gathered nearby to pay their condolences to the Badran family, struck by their second tragedy during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, the dead man’s brother Kemal Badran, 45, who works for the information office of the UN refugee agency UNRWA, said that his brother had had 20 years’ service as a policeman in Gaza, and had been injured early in the second intifada which started in 2000. “He was a religious man,” he added, saying that he frequently went early to the mosque before dawn prayers to wash and read the Koran. “Maybe [the Israelis] did not know that there would be anyone at the mosque at this time,” he said.

Mr Badran said that his brother had “of course” been extremely worried about the injuries suffered by his son Mohammed, whose mother Tagorid, 40, has been constantly at his bedside but left today to attend her husband’s funeral. Mr Badran added: “Her mood is not good. But now she must travel back to Gaza City because Mohammed has been calling for her.”

Israel regularly explains the abnormally  large number of mosques  hit during the current conflict by saying that it has uncovered a “vast number” of tunnel shafts, weapons caches, and sometimes rocket launching sites in their precincts. But the Imam Mr Mousa denied that the mosque had been so used by the militants and the neighbour, Mr al-Tawil, said that its basement was used as a preschool kindergarden.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?