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Israel-Palestine war: Infants found under rubble after Israel’s bombing of Gaza

The bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 1,400 Palestinians, half of whom are women and children
An injured child inside al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza (MEE/Mohammed Hajjar)
By Maha Hussaini in Gaza City, occupied Palestine

When Muhammed Ahmed left home for work on Wednesday from the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza, his wife and children feared he would fall victim to Israeli bombardment.

Around thirty minutes after his wife texted him to check if he was okay, two Israeli air strikes knocked down their three-story residential building, killing his entire family, including his wife and children, siblings, nieces, nephews, and sister-in-law.

Israel has been bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking at least 100 Israelis hostage.

The bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 1,400 Palestinians, half of whom are women and children. 

Israel has also implemented a full siege on the already blockaded strip of Palestinian territory, declaring that no fuel, food, water, electricity, or supplies will be allowed in.

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Family wiped out

Ahmed, who works on supplying drinking water to Gazans, returned home to find his house reduced to rubble.

His four children - Haidi, one; Qussai, three; Sidra, six; and Linda, seven - were playing with their two-year-old cousin, Ubaida, when their home was hit at 11:30am local time.

“Sidra was very scared. She was horrified by the sounds of the bombing. But her sister Linda used to comfort her all the time,” Ahmed told Middle East Eye.

“When I went to work, she and her mother were worried I would get killed. But they are gone even before me.”

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A man carries the dead body of a child outside the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza (MEE/Mohammed Hajjar)

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Ahmed says that his one-month-old nephew, Yamen, was found in a breastfeeding position under rubble, as his mother was feeding him when he was killed.

“Yamen had meningitis and I had taken him to the doctor a day earlier. He was only one month old and he was being breastfed when the air strike hit the home,” Ahmed added.

“The civil defence crews took hours until they could retrieve their bodies because the three-story building was above them,” he continued. 

“Until now, the body of my sister Haifa, who is an engineer, is still under the rubble.”

In a single day in Jabalia, Israeli fighter jets hit dozens of residential buildings, leaving at least 65 people killed and dozens injured.

Overwhelmed by the sheer scale of casualties, health care professionals are facing significant obstacles trying to identify children pulled from the rubble who frequently arrive at hospitals separated from their parents and families.

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Body bags lay on the floor at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza (MEE/Mohammed Hajjar)

Pulled from the wreckage of his home in Jabalia, along with approximately 100 others who were killed or injured, a three-month-old infant survived but remained unidentified for hours.

In an effort to reunite the baby with his family, the Ministry of Health in Gaza released a video in which a doctor held the infant to the camera and appealed for the family to contact the hospital if they recognised him.

“We found this newborn in Jabalia in the north of Gaza. We still do not know the family of this baby. Israeli warplanes bombed them, killing his parents, and he was left between the rubble. We found him a short time ago and are still looking for his family,” the doctor said.

“Whoever of this baby’s family recognises him, please directly contact the al-Shifa Hospital.”

Identified as Qassem al-Kafarna, the infant was reunited with his family a few hours later. According to his relative, the baby's father, brother, and four of his cousins were killed in the air strike.

A farewell kiss

In the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, on Wednesday an Israeli air strike hit a home where the Abutair family had sought refuge just one day earlier.

The strike killed two children, Firas, 14, and Ahmed, 11, while their third brother, Kamal, and their father, who are still in the intensive care unit, survived.

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An injured child at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza (MEE/Mohammed Hajjar)

Sitting in a wheelchair with his arm encased in a long cast, Kamal appeared in a video circulated on social media crying hysterically, recalling what happened when he and his brother were under the rubble.

“We were [sleeping]. I woke up to the sound of the strike […] My brother was screaming my name - 'Kamal, Kamal'. I swear to God he was still alive, but then because stones [got] in his mouth, he could not scream my [name]. He was just saying ‘hmmm, hmmm”, the boy said.

“Firas, please answer me, Firas [...] I want to kiss him, I want to kiss him,” he cried, before a health care professional carried him to his brother’s body and helped him bid his brother a farewell kiss.

At least 60 sixty percent of the casualties in Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the blockaded enclave are children and women, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

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