War on Gaza: Fate of ambulance team sent to rescue five-year-old girl unknown
The paramedics sent to rescue a five-year-old Palestinian girl, who was trapped with her dead family in a vehicle surrounded by Israeli forces, have not been heard from for five days, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported on Friday.
Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al Madhoun were dispatched on Monday to rescue Hind Rajab, after she called PRCS while trapped in a car under Israeli fire, along with the bodies of six family members, near a petrol station in Gaza City.
PRCS reported that they soon lost contact with the crew and expressed "deep concern" for the safety of the missing ambulance crew and Rajab.
Hind's mother, Wissam Rajab, told Middle East Eye that the family decided to flee when tanks approached the area they were staying in.
Due to poor weather, she had put her daughter in the vehicle along with her uncle, his wife, and their children, while the rest of the family, including Hind's grandmother, fled on foot.
"We heard gunfire and fled the area. We called the Red Crescent and told them that the car was getting shot at," Rajab told MEE.
Rajab thought they were all dead until she got a call from Layan Hamadeh, her 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, Rajab 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."
According to Hind's grandmother, Hind told them that Layan had been shot in the head and was covered in blood.
"We told her, 'Cover Layan's face and don't look at it, and sit down on the floor of the car and hide, you're a brave girl,'" Hind's grandmother told MEE.
'I'm scared of the dark, come get me'
According to Rajab, the family and Hind were on a three-way call to PRCS.
She recalled that Hind said she was in pain, and that her arm, leg, and back were wounded.
'Mum, I'm afraid, they are all dead'
- Hind (5)
Rajab tried to reassure her that the ambulance was nearby.
PRCS released an audio recording of the phone call, during which her final pleas can be heard amid the rattle of gunfire.
"I'm scared of the dark, come get me," she said.
According to Rajab, Hind said: "Don't leave me, I'm cold, hungry, and afraid."
PRCS said they were 15 minutes away and that they were looking for her, but then the line cut off.
'A little girl facing an army'
Rana al-Faqeh, a PRCS dispatcher who stayed on the phone to Rajab for three hours, told Reuters that she felt "paralysed" during the call.
"I told her if night falls, and we still can't send a team, to try to close her eyes and pretend we were playing hide and seek. To close her eyes and start counting," she said.
"I keep telling myself that she's still alive. Hind is only five years old. She's very smart, all of her teachers and her friends love her," Rajab, crying, told MEE.
Rajab and Hind's grandmother have called on international organisations and rights groups to find Hind.
"Hind is tired. Please save her, she's a little girl facing an army," Rajab said.
Organisations, campaigners, and social media users have been sharing images of Hind and the audio recordings under the hashtag #WhereisHind?
"Where is Hind? Where are Yousef and Ahmed? Are they still alive? We want to know their fate," PRCS posted on X.
"[Hind's] family were murdered around her. The PRCS crew that went to rescue her are missing. Where are the cries for their safety? The racism and hypocrisy are staggering," the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign posted on X.