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Israel-Palestine war: The teacher and the daughter who dreamt of Legoland, victims of Israel in Gaza

Hadeel Abu Al-Roos, her husband Bassel al-Khayyat and their four children, as well as 9 other relatives, were killed in an Israeli attack on Rafah on 13 October
Hadeel with her brother, the writer Karim Abu Al-Roos (Social media)
Hadeel with her brother, the writer Karim Abu Al-Roos (Social media)

The city of Rafah and the refugee camp that adjoins it are at the southernmost tip of Gaza and the site of the only crossing point the besieged region does not share with Israel.

When the Israeli army ordered the eviction of residents from northern Gaza to the south, many Palestinians held faint hope that the area would be spared bombardment.

Instead the area, which sits on the Egyptian border, has been hit by countless Israeli strikes.

And just like anywhere in the area, the human toll has been massive with entire families wiped out.

On 13 October, an Israeli warplane launched the munitions that would kill Hadeel Abu Al-Roos.

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She died alongside her husband Basel al-Khayyat and their four children: Mahmoud, Ahmed, Celine and Eline. 

In total, 15 members of the extended Khayyat family were killed in the Israeli attack.

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Abu Al-Roos worked as a physics teacher and Khayyat was an engineer and it’s through their work that they are remembered today, as colleagues and friends post their condolences.

Students who knew Abu Al-Roos took to Facebook to remember their late teacher’s kindness.

"My dear teacher and beloved martyr, Hadeel Abu Al-Roos, had a unique style in everything,” said one student named Sara Tamer, continuing: “She was truly exceptional. We are very grateful for your efforts and your love for us. We will miss your humour, your attitude and your cheerful way of speaking."

Another student, named Noura al-Abed, wrote: “You were not only a teacher to us.”

Basel al-Khayyat is pictured here with his daughters (Social media)

Weeks after her death, US President Joe Biden cast doubt on the number of Palestinians killed by Israel since 7 October.

The US leader said he had “no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth” about the number of dead, which at the moment stands at more than 7,000.

In response the Palestinian Ministry of Health released the names and ID numbers of the vast majority of those who had died, with the exception of several hundred who had not yet been identified.

Palestinians, however, have long noticed the international indifference to the loss of their loved ones and have been at pains to ensure they are not forgotten.

'She taught me to respect women'

Hadeel’s younger brother Karim Abu Al-Roos, a writer based in Belgium, promised that his sister will not be remembered as a number or a news update. 

He promised that he would always write about the person he knew and grew up with.

On Facebook, Kareem wrote: “This is my sister, Hadeel. My older sister. She raised and educated me. She used to take me to school and bring me back home. 

“She arranged games for me when I was little and defended me in childhood scuffles. She shielded me from our mother's anger over my misbehaviours.

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“My sister, Hadeel, taught me to love and respect women, to honour their freedom and rights. 

“My sister, Hadeel, introduced me to books and reading, buying me novels when my school allowance was limited. 

“This is my sister, Hadeel, the brilliant educator known to the Ministry of Education for her high marks and exceptional teaching methods.”

Hadeel’s husband, Bassel, is remembered by friends for his love of football and his skill as an engineer.

Ahmed al-Taimomy posted a farewell message for his friend in which he said: “Bassel was known for his sense of humour, enthusiasm and his unwavering support for the Egyptian football club, Al-Ahly.”

The couple's children were also remembered by relatives.

Daughters Eline and Celine were eight and five respectively when they were killed. Their son Mahmoud was two years old and their youngest Ahmed was less than a year old.

The children’s uncle Kareem Abu Al-Roos recalled his niece Eline’s talent for drawing and her love for their pet cat, who also died in the attack.

He said Eline dreamt of going to Legoland and buying a toy from there.

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