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Body found in rubble of al-Dalou family home

Nov. 22, 2012 3:45 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2012 9:58 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Civil defense crews on Thursday retrieved the body of a 29-year-old man from the rubble of the al-Dalou family home in Gaza City.

Family members identified the body as Mohammad al-Dalou. The body of Yara al-Dalou, 17, is still missing.

An Israeli airstrike flattened the al-Dalou family home in the Shujaiyya neighborhood on Sunday, killing a mother and her four children - 1-year-old Ibrahim, Yousef, 4, Jamal, 6, Sarah, 7 - a grandmother, great grandmother and two aunts.

The father of the family, a grocer, was at a local shop with his young son when the house was attacked. He returned to the wreckage to find most of his loved ones dead and trapped in its battered shell.

Two neighbors -- 83-year-old Ameena a-Miznar and her 19-year-old relative Abdullah -- were killed in the same strike.

Civil defense crews in Gaza have been searching the rubble of the home for the missing bodies since Sunday, a task complicated by repeated Israeli airstrikes on the neighborhood.

At Shifa Hospital on Monday, one family member struggled to identify his wife.

"Is this your wife?" asked a medic inside the morgue.

"Ah, what happened to your face sweetheart?" her husband said, weeping and collapsing into the arms of his spouse. The woman's face was burnt beyond recognition.

On Thursday, the Israeli military said it could not provide an explanation for the strike. An army spokeswoman said the incident was still being examined.

The Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Maariv said the army had fired at the wrong house, while Israel's top-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported the al-Dalou home was indeed the target and that it housed a Hamas militant.

Around the time of the attack, the military said it had hit the commander of Hamas's rocket-launching operations. They named him as Yihia Abayah. Soon after, reports began coming in that a family was killed in the strike.

Several hours later, the Israeli army's chief spokesman, Yoav Mordechai, said on television the military tried to attack Abayah. "Although I don't know the outcome, there were civilians harmed by this".

But around the al-Dalou's home, people say they know nothing of Yihia Abayah. Hatem al-Dalou, a relative of the family, said: "I have never heard such a name (Yihia Abayah). This is nonsense."

"They killed a family that was safe and happy," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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