Israel strikes kill well-known Gaza dentist

Middle East Monitor  /  May 9, 2023

Among the 10 civilian victims of the Israeli air strikes against resistance group leaders in Gaza on Tuesday was a dentist known for offering free treatment to poor families, who lived in the same residential block as Islamic Jihad leader, Tareq Izzeldeen, Reuters reports.

Jamal Khuswan was killed along with his wife, Mervat, and 21 year-old son, Youssef, a medical student, who were all asleep in their apartment in the centre of Gaza city. Seven other civilians, including women and children, were killed in other parts of the enclave by the strikes.

The former Chief Executive of Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital and a leader in the local union of dentists, Khuswan was hailed by the health department as a national figure “who spared no effort to carry out his humanitarian duty”.

Khuswan’s other four children survived the attack with minor injuries, Khuswan’s brother, Mohammad, said.

“It felt tough, very bad, in an unusual way,” he said outside the morgue, after seeing his brother’s body. He said his brother, who was in his 50s, held Russian as well as Palestinian nationality as he had studied for a long time in Russia.

In other areas of the crowded enclave, run by the group, Hamas, people sifted through the rubble of their homes to salvage whatever documents and furniture they could.

“Children woke up to the sounds of explosions, they panicked. We have children, women and elderly. What happened wasn’t normal,” said Hani Jaber, a resident of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where a top Islamic Jihad leader and his wife were killed.

Palestinian officials said Israel’s strikes hit a number of residential buildings in the densely populated strip in which 2.3 million Palestinians live on a patch of 365 sq km (140 sq miles).

Palestinians have lived through several wars with Israel since 2008. Gaza Health officials said a 16-year-old Israeli-led blockade has crippled the economy and undermined the development of health institutions.

Gaza streets looked almost empty on Tuesday morning, except for the movement of taxis and ambulance vans racing through the streets as relatives prepared to participate in the funerals of the 13 people killed.

Izzeldeen was one of three senior leaders of Islamic Jihad killed in the attacks. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian-backed group that operates from Gaza and which also has armed fighters in parts of the Occupied West Bank.

The military said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties but, otherwise, had no immediate comment.