Hind Rajab, 6, found dead in Gaza days after phone calls for help

Hind Rajab
Image caption,Hind Rajab, 6, was trying to escape to the west of Gaza City when the car she was travelling in came under fire

By Lucy Williamson

BBC News, Jerusalem

A six-year-old girl who went missing in Gaza City last month has been found dead, along with several of her relatives and two paramedics who tried to save her, after they appear to have come under fire from Israeli tanks.

Hind Rajab was fleeing the city in a car with her aunt, uncle and three cousins at the time.

Audio recordings of calls between Hind and emergency call operators suggest that the six-year-old was the only one left alive in the car, hiding from Israeli forces among the bodies of her relatives.

Her pleas for someone to rescue her ended when the phone line was cut amid the sound of more gunfire.

Paramedics from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) managed on Saturday to reach the area, which had previously been closed off as an active combat zone.

They found the black Kia car Hind had been travelling in – its windscreen and dashboard smashed to pieces, bullet holes scattered across the side.

Destroyed car riddled with bullet holes
Image caption,Hind’s car was found smashed and riddled with bullet holes

One paramedic told journalists that Hind was among the six bodies found inside the car, all of which showed signs of gunfire and shelling.

A few metres away were the remains of another vehicle – completely burnt out, its engine spilling onto the ground. This, the Red Crescent says, is the ambulance sent to fetch Hind.

Its crew – Yusuf al-Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun – were killed when the ambulance was bombed by Israeli forces, the organisation says.

In a statement, the PRCS accused Israel of deliberately targeting the ambulance, as soon as it arrived at the scene on 29 January.

“The [Israeli] occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent crew despite obtaining prior coordination to allow the ambulance to arrive at the scene to rescue the child Hind,” it said.

The PRCS told the BBC that it had taken several hours to coordinate access with the Israeli army, in order to send paramedics to Hind.

Passers-by inspect burnt out remains of vehicle
Image caption,The car belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics was completely burnt out

“We got the coordination, we got the green light,” PRCS spokeswoman, Nibal Farsakh, told me earlier this week. “On arrival, [the crew] confirmed that they could see the car where Hind was trapped, and they could see her. The last thing we heard is continuous gunfire.”

Recordings of Hind’s conversations with call operators – shared publicly by the Red Crescent – sparked a campaign to find out what had happened to her.

Hind’s mother told us – before her body was discovered – that she was waiting for her daughter “any moment, any second”.

Now she is demanding that someone be held accountable.

“For every person who heard my voice and my daughter’s pleading voice, yet did not rescue her, I will question them before God on the Day of Judgement,” she told the BBC. “Netanyahu, Biden, and all those who collaborated against us, against Gaza and its people, I pray against them from the depths of my heart.”

At the hospital where she waited for news of her daughter, Hind’s mother, Wissam, still holds the little pink bag she was keeping for her. Inside it, a notebook where Hind had been practising her handwriting.

“How many more mothers are you waiting to feel this pain? How many more children do you want to get killed?” she said.

We twice asked the army for details on its operations in the area that day, and about the disappearance of Hind and the ambulance sent to retrieve her – it said it was checking.

We have asked again for their response to the allegations made by the Palestinian Red Crescent on Saturday.

The rules of war say medical personnel must be protected and not targeted in a conflict, and that injured people must be given the medical care they need – to the fullest practical extent and with the least possible delay.

Israel has previously accused Hamas of using https://fokuslahlagi.com/ ambulances to transport its weapons and fighters.

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