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Forensic Architecture probe concludes Israeli tank likely killed Palestinian child Hind Rajab 

Investigation reveals Rajab's car was hit with 335 bullets and finds it 'not plausible' that Israeli tank couldn't see children inside car
Five-year-old Hind Rajab's mother said she was injured and trapped in a car with relatives in northern Gaza.
Six-year-old Hind Rajab's mother said she was injured and trapped in a car with relatives in northern Gaza (X)

A UK-based research group published the findings of a forensic investigation on Friday, revealing that Hind Rajab, the six-year-old Palestinian girl found dead along with members of her family in northern Gaza earlier this year, was most likely killed by Israeli tank fire.

The investigation found that the car in which Rajab was killed had been hit with 335 bullets, with most of the entries coming from the right side of the vehicle. The investigation was conducted by Forensic Architecture, Al Jazeera's Fault Lines and the NGO Earshot.

Forensic Architecture said that the gun used for this attack was "firing at a range of 750–900 rounds per minute", and that this range exceeds that of the AK-type assault rifle that is commonly attributed to Palestinian fighters operating in Gaza.

"This range of rounds per minute is consistent with Israeli army-issued weaponry such as the M4 assault rifle or the FN MAG machine gun on a Merkava tank," the investigation said.

The probe - using a mix of kinetic analysis, satellite imagery and footage sourced from the site of the incident - also found that the Israeli tank that fired upon the vehicle Rajab was sitting inside must have been positioned within 13 to 23 metres when it killed Layan, Rajab's 15-year-old cousin.

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The close proximity means that the tank must have been able to see into the vehicle, with the investigators concluding: "It's not plausible that the shooter could not have seen that the car was occupied by civilians, including children." 

"From the tank position indicated by the greatest alignment between entry and exit holes, we concluded that the shooter would have had a clear view of the car and its passengers," the investigation said.

"In other words, they would have been aware of the presence of two children."

The investigation refutes the claim by Israel denying responsibility for the killing and said that Israeli forces were not present in the area at the time of Rajab's death.

'I'm scared of the dark, come get me'

Rajab was found dead on 10 February this year in northern Gaza, after nearly two weeks of being trapped inside a car with her family while being surrounded by Israeli military forces and being subject to Israeli fire.

Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, two paramedics sent to rescue Rajab after she called pleading for help from inside the vehicle, which was under Israeli fire, were also found dead. 

The last time that rescue workers heard from Rajab was on 29 January.

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Her mother, Wissam Rajab, previously told Middle East Eye the family were separated when they tried to flee the area, which was under intense Israeli attacks. 

Due to poor weather, Wissam had put her daughter in the vehicle along with extended relatives, while the rest of the family fled on foot.

After hearing gunfire in the area, the family called the Red Crescent to tell them the car was getting shot at.

Initially, Wissam thought everyone in the car was killed until she got a call from Layan Hamadeh, Hind's 15-year-old cousin, saying: "Hind and I are wounded, and all my family is dead. I don't want to die. Please call an ambulance to save us. I'm scared. The tanks are 500 metres away from me."

The line went dead, and Wissam thought they had both been killed. But when she called again, Hind answered and said: "I'm alive, but Layan was martyred. Mum, I'm afraid, they are all dead. Come and get me."

Earlier this year, the Palestine Red Crescent Society released an audio recording of the last phone call with Hind, during which her final pleas can be heard amid the rattle of gunfire.

"I'm scared of the dark, come get me," she said.

Her death became a symbol for pro-Palestine protesters all around the world. At Columbia University in New York City, student demonstrators took over and occupied a building on campus and renamed it "Hind's Hall" in honour of Rajab.

On 6 May, American rapper Macklemore released a song titled "Hind's Hall", both to memorialise Rajab as well as the ongoing Gaza solidarity encampments being erected on university campuses across the US.

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