Wednesday, 1 July 2015

1st July 2015, civilian residence in Saada Yemen hit multiple times by Saudi led coalition airstrike

On 1st July 2015, Saudi led coalition repeatedly struck a residential apartment building where 20 civilians were residing, killing 1 civilian and injuring 12 more. Amnesty documented this as a targeted attack on civilians, this is their report:

SA’DA CITY, SA’DA, 1 JULY

On the night of 1 July Majid Amin al-Hamiri was sitting across the road from the three-storey apartment building in which his family lived, when coalition forces launched three consecutive strikes on the building, just north of Sa’da city centre. The attack killed Ahmed al-Dhammari, a 40-year-old fruit and vegetable vendor; and injured six members of the Hamiri family – 18-month-old Naya al-Hamiri; her mother Anhar, 26; grandmother Samira, 48; her aunts Nidhal, 19, and Noura, 21; and her uncle Wessam, 23 – as well as three men who were working on the family’s home.
Majid Amin al-Hamiri told Amnesty International:


“The first strike hit in front of the building, the second hit the first floor and the third hit the second floor. I was sitting across the road with my 15-year-old brother and I saw everything. All I heard was the plane, as if it was descending and making a whistling sound. Then I heard an explosion. I went to get my family out after the first strike, to get out my father and brother, and then the second strike happened…Min Allah [It was written by god, meant to be]. We were already around the corner when the second strike happened. That is when my brother was injured in his leg.”


A fruit and vegetable vendor from the downstairs shop and two workers who were repairing the windows of the al-Hamiris’ apartment were also injured in the strikes. “We have no electricity in Sa’da, so the workers had to work at night because they needed electricity for their tools and the generator is only on for few hours at night”, Majid told Amnesty International.


Majid Amin al-Hamiri also told researchers how he and his family had been living in utter fear of the airstrikes every night:

“Since the start of the coalition airstrikes, we have been sleeping under the stairs. My daughter Naya and I slept under the stairs on the ground floor, while the rest of the family slept under the stairs on the first floor. At the time of the airstrike, my family was watching television in the living room. If we had been asleep when the strike happened, we would not have survived. We choose the safest place in the house, under the stairs. The whole house is destroyed.”


Majid al-Hamiri told researchers that this was not the first airstrike on his neighbourhood:

“A strike prior to this one on my house targeted the 125th [army] Brigade and the Military Police [Headquarters], 500 metres from our house. But the brigade was not active at the time.”


Neighbours told researchers that many residents had fled the neighbourhood after the strike, weeks earlier, on the nearby army and military police buildings and that more had fled since the 1 July strike on the al-Hamiri building. Only two families were still living in the building at the time of the strike; the al-Hamiris and the owner of the building and his family. The owner and his family lived on the ground floor, on the eastern side of the building, and were able to escape unharmed after the first bomb struck in front of the western side the building. A fruit and vegetable shop on the ground floor was open late as is customary during the month of Ramadan.


Amnesty International visited the site on 3 July, a day and a half after the airstrike, and examined munition remnants found in the rubble of the building that were consistent with the weight and material used for bombs found at the sites of other airstrikes in Sa’da governorate and elsewhere in Yemen. A crater of about two meters in diameter in front of the building, which witnesses identified as the point of impact of the first strike, had been filled with bricks and debris from the strike. The building was partly destroyed, notably between the western fa├žade and the stairwell, and neighbouring houses had suffered varying degrees of blast damage. Researchers found no evidence that the building was used for military purposes.


The fact that the building was the object of three successive strikes indicates that it was likely the intended target, possibly because it was associated with Military Police chief Hamid al-Hamiri, a member of the extended al-Hamiri family who, according to relatives and neighbours who spoke to Amnesty International, was no longer living in the building and was not in or near the building at the time of the strike. However, even if he had been present, attacking the building in this manner, with some 20 civilians present, would likely have been disproportionate.


‘BOMBS FALL FROM THE SKY DAY AND NIGHT’CIVILIANS UNDER FIRE IN NORTHERN YEMENAmnesty International October 2015 Index: MDE 31/2548/2015

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