Gaza girl Hind Rajab, 6, found dead with relatives’ and rescuers’ bodies 12 days after her plea for help

Gaza girl Hind Rajab, 6, found dead with relatives’ and rescuers’ bodies 12 days after her plea for help

Six-year-old Hind Rajab pleaded to be rescued, after her family’s car came under fire in war-ravaged Gaza City, leaving her frightened and injured, and surrounded by the bodies of five of her dead relatives.

“I am so scared,” she had said in a desperate phone call to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS). “Call someone to come get me, please.”

But after days of frantic efforts to reach her, Hind’s body was recovered on Saturday, alongside her relatives and two PRCS rescuers sent to find her.

The aid agency and the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip confirmed the grim discovery, and blamed Israeli forces.

Family members found Hind’s body along with those of her uncle and aunt and their three children still in a car in the Tel al-Hawa suburb of Gaza City, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

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Hind Rajab, who was six when she died in Gaza. Photo: Handout via AFP

The plight of Hind, revealed in harrowing audio clips of her terrified conversation with rescuers 12 days ago, underlined the impossible conditions for civilians in the face of Israel’s four-month assault on Gaza.

Hind was last heard from after becoming trapped in a family vehicle with relatives as they tried to flee an Israel advance.

Believed to be the only survivor, Hind stayed on the line with dispatchers, who tried to soothe her as they prepared to send an ambulance.

“Hind and everyone else in the car is martyred,” the girl’s grandfather, Baha Hamada, said on Saturday.

A number of relatives found the bodies when they went looking for the car near a petrol station where it had last been spotted, he said.

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Mourners in Gaza react next to bodies on Saturday amid the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Photo: Reuters

Earlier this week, family members said the group found their way in the path of Israeli tanks and were fired on as they tried to flee.

Hind managed to talk to her family by telephone as well as make an emergency call, which the PRCS published on February 3.

“For over three hours, Hind desperately pleaded for rescue from the occupation (Israeli) tanks surrounding her, enduring gunfire and the horror of being alone, trapped among the bodies of her relatives shot by the Israeli forces in front of her eyes,” it added.

Nothing more was then heard from the girl, even as the ambulance was sent to get her, the organisation said. Her grandfather said she was injured in the back, hand and foot.

“She was frightened, terrified,” he said, sobbing. “Hind is my first grandchild, she’s a piece of my heart.”

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Israeli police officers in Tel Aviv walk past a board displaying pictures of hostages kidnapped in the October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Photo: Reuters

The Palestinian militant group Hamas urged human rights groups and the international community to document what it called a “horrific crime”.

The PRCS accused Israel of deliberately targeting the ambulance it sent to rescue the girl.

“The occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent crew despite prior coordination to allow the ambulance to arrive at the site to rescue Hind,” the organisation said in a statement.

“In our last communication with the team, they said the occupation forces aimed a laser beam at them. We heard gunshots and then an explosion,” said Red Crescent spokesperson in Ramallah, Nebal Farsakh.

Hind’s highly publicised case comes as aid agencies warn that children and families are bearing the brunt of Israel’s war with Hamas.

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Palestinians in Gaza extinguish a burning car hit by an Israeli strike on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

Children are dying “at an alarming rate” in Gaza, the UN children’s agency Unicef said.

Thousands have been killed and many more injured, with others at risk because of a lack of food, water and medicine, it said.

There was no comment from the Israeli army when contacted by AFP.

The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Vowing to eliminate Hamas, Israel launched a massive military offensive in Gaza that the health ministry says has killed at least 27,947 people, mostly women and children.

Unicef said on Wednesday that children in Gaza need “life-saving support” as the hostilities were having a “catastrophic impact”.

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Half of the estimated 1.7 million people displaced in Gaza are children, their homes destroyed and “their families torn apart”, the agency said.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes killed at least 31 Palestinians in Rafah early on Saturday, hours after Israel’s prime minister said he asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from the southern Gaza city ahead of a ground invasion.

Over a million Palestinians cramming into the border city await a full-blown offensive with the rest of their tiny enclave in ruins and nowhere left to run.

Additional reporting by Reuters, Associated Press

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