'He didn't understand, he was terrified': Disabled Palestinian man shot dead by IDF in Gaza hospital

This video contains distressing images

Report by ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo and Security Producer Dan Howells, with words by Content Producer Lottie Kilraine

This report contains distressing details.

A disabled Palestinian man was killed with a "direct shot to the neck" while being held in a hospital by Israeli soldiers on the Gaza Strip, ITV News understands.

The shooting of Najeeb Salem Sadeq occurred just hours before ITV News captured footage of an unarmed civilian being shot dead while walking in a group waving a white flag, in the same area of Khan Younis.

The 39-year-old, who had severe learning difficulties, had fled to the nearby Al Khair hospital with his parents and siblings after the apartment block where they lived was hit by an artillery strike.

There, Najeeb was separated from his father - who was led away by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers already stationed at the hospital - and was held with a group of women, children, and older people due to his disability.

His sister, Zainab, spoke about the moment Najeeb was killed after he became increasingly distressed by the sound of nearby gunfire - despite bystanders' attempts to communicate his vulnerability in both Hebrew and Arabic.

"We thought the hospital would be a shelter, but I realised we were trapped in there," she told ITV News.

"The soldier wanted us to duck - he was telling us to stay down, but (Najeeb) wasn't able to understand.

"My brother was saying: 'I am scared, I am scared. I don't want to die', and I was crying - but they shot him anyway. I tried to wake him up, but when I let him go, he fell to the floor. I knew he was dead."

Zainab Salem Sadeq described the moment her brother was killed. Credit: ITV News

ITV News tracked down Najeeb's neighbour who had known him since he was a child and pleaded with the IDF in Hebrew in an attempt to save his life.

"I told him that he was my neighbour and that his home was only 100 metres away from mine, I've known him for years," Aslan Al Farrah told ITV News.

"When it was 2am or 1.30am, Najeeb was screaming more and more because he hadn't taken his medication. He was freaking out from the gunfire noise and the bombing.

"A soldier called for me because I could communicate in Arabic and Hebrew.

"He said to me: 'silence this man who screams, he has got five chances, if he screams again, I will shoot him and silence him forever.'

Aslan Al Farrah lived in the same building as Najeeb and witnessed the shooting, Credit: ITV News

"When Najeeb screamed, I made him sit down and he was saying: 'I don't want to be here, I don't want to be here'.

"Another soldier who was on the other entrance came and shot him, and he died," he added.

Najeeb's mother, who is almost blind, heard the gunshots but couldn't see what had happened to her son.

"When I told her Najeeb is dead, she groped his arms and legs and cried 'oh my son, oh my love'," his sister said.

"The soldiers left her to mourn for him. They saw her, but they didn't have any pity for her."

Zainab said multiple people had tried to explain to the Israeli soldiers that her brother had a disability and that he could not understand the instructions being given to him, a claim echoed by eye-witnesses who spoke to ITV News.

Najeeb Salem Sadeq was shot and killed while sheltering in a hospital in Gaza. Credit: ITV News

Mahmoud Shaheen had been looking for his mother who was being held in the same part of the hospital and he saw Najeeb becoming increasingly "terrified" due to the loud noises from nearby explosions.

Speaking to ITV News, he said: "He freaked out every time he heard the gunfire noise.

"The soldier ordered him to shut up, but he couldn't understand what the soldier was saying to him. His sister told the officer that Najeeb was mentally disabled, and someone who knew Hebrew also told them.

"An IDF soldier who spoke Arabic said to him: 'the next time you stand up, I will shoot you', but Najeeb didn't understand.

"People failed to calm him down, he stood up every time he heard a firing noise. They said the next time he stands up, they will shoot him... and they did."

When asked by ITV News where on his body Najeeb had been shot, Mr Shaheen pointed to his neck.

Mahmoud Shaheen witnessed the shooting. Credit: ITV News

Najeeb's 62-year-old father, Salem Sadeq told ITV News: "When they separated us from the women, my son stayed with his mother because he was a disabled person.

"They told the young men to strip down to their underwear and to come through one by one. For the older men, like me, they told us not to get undressed.

"They kept us somewhere inside Al Khair hospital, the next day they released us and that is when I found out my son had been killed."

Zainab and her mother were told to leave the hospital after Najeeb was killed, but they had to leave his body behind.

His body remained on the floor until sunrise, when witnesses have said the IDF began recruiting some of the Palestinian men being held at the hospital to move the dead and wounded away from the fighting zone.

ITV News spoke to Mahmoud Yehya Alnajar, one of the men who volunteered to move the bodies.

Najeeb Salem Sadeq's body is carried from the Al Khair hospital. Credit: ITV News

"The Israeli soldiers needed between five and ten people to move the injured or dead people from Al Khair hospital to the Al Aqsa University gate," he said.

"I used a blanket to carry the body of a man (later identified as Najeeb) and carried it from the hospital for a long distance. I kept going until I arrived at a junction, where I saw civilians in the street."

Mr Alnajar described how he carried Najeeb's body to the junction of the road where, just hours later, ITV News filmed the fatal shooting of an unarmed Palestinian man - Ramzi Abu Sahloul - who was killed while walking with a group holding a white flag.

"When I arrived (at the junction) I was exhausted and a group of men came to help me with the body. Then we were fired at," he said.

Mr Alnajar's brother, who had travelled from Rafah to help his brother escape, was shot in the leg as he tried to help move Najeeb's body.

Credit: ITV News

"Would I keep carrying a dead body or would I save my brother? The man was already dead but my brother was injured," he said.

"I tried to carry my brother as no one could help me - we were still being fired at."

The pair managed to escape and eventually made it to the Al Nasser hospital further down the road.

Najeeb's body was loaded into a van by a group of Palestinians who had been fleeing down the road, and he was later buried by his family in makeshift cemetery in the grounds of the Al Nasser hospital.

Israel’s air and ground offensive, ignited by a deadly Hamas attack in Israel on October 7 - where an estimated 1,200 people were killed and a further 250 were kidnapped - has come under heavy scrutiny globally over the IDF's treatment of civilians in Gaza.

The Hamas-run health ministry said more than 30,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October, with more than 70,000 Palestinian believed to have been injured.

Najeeb Salem Sadeq buried by his family in makeshift cemetery in the grounds of the Al Nasser hospital. Credit: ITV News

Last month, ITV News reported on multiple incidences of Palestinians being shot and killed while holding white flags - an international symbol of surrender.

Israeli officials maintain that IDF soldiers do not intentionally target civilians.

In response to the killing of Najeeb, an IDF spokesperson told ITV News: "In response to Hamas' barbaric attacks, the IDF is operating to dismantle Hamas military and administrative capabilities.

"In stark contrast to Hamas' intentional attacks on Israeli men, women, and children, the IDF follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm.

"Given the ongoing exchanges of fire, remaining in an active combat zone has inherent risks. The IDF will continue to counter threats while persisting to mitigate harm to civilians."

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