On 12th September 2015, the Saudi led coalition airstrikes struck a home in central Sanaa, killing three people, including two children, and injuring four, three of whom were children who were living in the house next door. The video below does now report the three children who were injured, but Jamila spoke to the next door neighbour's friend who reported:
The following is an account from one of the victim's relatives that was published in the New York Times:
"My friend ... was living in central Sanaa, he moved to the South to his father's house to avoid the bombardments just like many Yemenis did. They were suddenly surprised that jets hit the house next door. Now the very strange thing is it was a direct hit to that house with out any reason, the owner himself was outside the country and there were no weapons stores or anything nearby. A woman and her child were killed and another member of the family. My friend's house next to the targeted house was damaged a little bit, but the thing is his daughter and two sons were wounded by the fragments/splinters of the explosion, they had to cut off his son's foot to save his leg. He is now in Jordan under therapy."
SANA, Yemen — LEWZA was my sister-in-law. She was a good person, one of the kindest I have ever known.
At about 6 a.m. on Saturday a missile hit her house here, east of the presidential palace, in an area called Al Asbahi. She and her 7-year old son, Taha, were killed instantly. Miraculously, her three other children survived. One of them told me that at the moment the missile hit, Lewza had been praying. She was 45.
The missile hit a side of her house and partially destroyed two other buildings. It also killed a 3-year-old boy who lived nearby. It was almost certainly fired by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in this country’s civil war.
I was sleeping in my home about two miles away, in Beit Miad, when my son Jemil knocked on the door of our bedroom. I asked him to come in. My wife left to go to the bathroom. He then told me that his uncle had phoned him to say Lewza’s house had been bombed. I changed my clothes, didn’t bother to wash and left. I didn’t want to face my wife with bad news about her sister.
I got in the car with my sons Jemil, 32, and Redwan, 25, and Redwan’s friend Mohammed. The ride was quick. The streets were nearly empty. When we arrived, we saw the destruction.
Many of the neighborhood houses had no windows, and some had demolished doors and walls. Lewza’s house and two others near it had been severely damaged. The car that had been in their yard was also destroyed.
The missile had taken out the corner of Lewza’s house — the supporting column was gone, and so were the walls, and the concrete roof had collapsed. The rooms were full of shattered concrete, stone and furniture. Part of the house was still standing, but it would be only a matter of time before it all collapsed.
We entered the house and were met by Lewza’s nephew. “My aunt and her son, Taha, are dead,” he told us. I assumed the bodies would be taken to the house of Hashim, Lewza’s brother, who lived nearby. As I was leaving, a man came out and told me that one of my sons had collapsed in the yard. I went back and found Redwan lying on the ground, unconscious. We lifted him and took him out of the yard, where somebody fetched water and sprayed his face and head, and he was revived.
Soon my wife and my two daughters, along with my son Wasim, who is visiting from Saudi Arabia, arrived in a taxi. Before they could get out, I got in the back seat and asked the driver to go to Hashim’s house. In the car, my wife asked about her sister and the children. I held her with both hands and told her that Lewza and little Taha were dead. She and the children began crying hysterically. I told the driver not to stop.
At the house we were met by Hashim’s wife, who told us the bodies were not there. My wife was crying, asking me to show her her sister’s body. I promised her that I would bring the bodies back and quickly returned to what was left of Lewza’s house.
On the way I phoned Hashim. He was in a hospital, where Taha’s body had been taken. I asked him where Lewza’s body was. He started to cry. Between sobs, I understood that he was telling me that she was still under the wreckage of the house — the collapsed roof, shattered furniture and the debris of concrete and stone.
Somebody needed to take charge of the situation. I was the eldest. I called my children, their friends, the nephews and neighbors and told them that we had to organize a search for Lewza’s body. They all agreed. I asked everyone near us to either help or leave us to do the job.
About 15 of us formed a line and started removing the debris one piece at a time, each person passing bits of wreckage to the person next to him. In 30 minutes, we’d cleared the road and yard. We saved any paper with writing on it, and any furniture we could salvage, and put it in a room that was not damaged.
Working in the house for the next three hours, we collected small pieces of Lewza’s flesh, bones and hair, all mixed with blood and body fluids. Some got sick and vomited. We found the remainder of her body under stacks of concrete and furniture. We pried it out. One of her legs was missing. Half her face and head were gone. She was beyond recognition. I knew right there and then that I would not fulfill my promise to my wife. I was not going to let her see her sister. Better that she remember Lewza’s beautiful face as she knew it.
I then phoned Hashim and told him that we had found Lewza’s body, without giving him details — I was relieved that he did not ask. I told him that I would make the burial arrangements and rent a hall for people to come pay their condolences and share our sorrow. We took Lewza’s remains to the mosque for the funeral service, and waited for Hashim, who was bringing Taha’s body. There was a crowd of about 200 people there to mourn with us. We shared a sense of hurt, grief and helplessness. Even now, I am stuck between hating myself for being a citizen of a poor country and hating the Saudis and their allies for being rich.
In the few days before the bombing, we had all visited and spoken with Lewza. As usual, she received us with tenderness and love. We talked about Wasim’s coming marriage celebration. We talked about the future, a future that has now been taken away.
On Sunday, after the burial, we went to Lewza’s house with laborers to continue clearing it. There we found the missing half of her head. We took it to the burial place and dug again, about three feet deep, and laid it there, along with the rest of her remains.
This is the first time in my life I’ve had to bury one human being twice.
In Yemen, Death from Above, Grief from Below. By Nasser M. Kutabish (general manager at the Fire Protection Center in Sana, Yemen)