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Case of Missing Girl, 6, Tragically Lays Bare Deadly Conditions for Gaza’s Children, Health Workers

HeadlineFeb 02, 2024

Over 1 million displaced Palestinians are under threat of a new ground assault on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, after the Israeli military said it would attack the area once labeled a “safe zone.” The U.N. called Rafah, located on the border with Egypt, a “pressure cooker of despair.” The death toll in Gaza continues to rise, with over 27,000 killed and more than 66,000 wounded in four months. Over 11,000 of those killed by Israel have been children.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society is calling for the international community to intervene immediately to halt attacks on medical workers and to help find a 6-year-old girl, Hind, and two members of their emergency medical team, Yousef Zaino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, who have been missing for nearly four days. Hind and her 15-year-old relative Layan Hamadeh called the Red Crescent on Monday, pleading for help as Israeli tanks approached their family’s car in Gaza City. All six members of Hind’s family were killed by Israeli fire, including Layan. These were her last words, recorded on the call with a Red Crescent dispatcher.

Layan Hamadeh: “Hello?”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Hello, dear?”

Layan Hamadeh: “They are shooting at us.”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Hello?”

Layan Hamadeh: “They are shooting at us. The tank is next to me.”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Are you hiding?”

Layan Hamadeh: “Yes, in the car. We’re next to the tank.”

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Are you inside the car?”

Layan Hamadeh: [screaming]

Red Crescent dispatcher: “Hello? Hello?”

After all her family members were killed, 6-year-old Hind remained trapped in the car as emergency workers tried to reach her. This is Rana al-Faqeh, the emergency dispatcher who spent several hours on the phone with Hind, trying to reassure and calm the girl.

Rana al-Faqeh: “It is a painful experience when you hear her voice, which was trembling, sad, and at the same time she had hope that someone would save her. But we were helpless. We felt that we were paralyzed, because we were thinking about the situation she was in. She was trapped inside a car with six bodies of martyrs, audio of tanks and aircraft firing. When the tank came close to her, she was screaming and crying. The worst minute was when she said the tank got closer, and then the phone cut. At this moment, I thought the tank climbed on the car. At this moment, I started to cry, and I was trying to be strong.”

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