Palestinian Toddler Found Alive 4 Days After Family Killed In Gaza
A Palestinian toddler believed to have been killed along with his family in an Israeli airstrike on their Gaza home has been found badly injured — but alive — by surviving relatives.
Maan News Agency reports 4-year-old Yamin Abu Jabir was with relatives celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a festive Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when Israeli forces bombed his family’s home in the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza last Tuesday.
The Israeli strike leveled the family’s home, killing 22 of Yamin’s relatives. In the chaos that followed, rescue workers rushed the severely injured boy to al-Aqsa Martys Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where he was treated in the intensive care unit the hospital was shelled by Israeli tanks, killing four people and wounding many others.
A young volunteer, Muhammad Abu Zeid, accompanied Yamin as he was then transfered to al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest. Zeid waited by the injured child’s bedside in the hope that one of his surviving relatives might locate him there.
“When al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital was bombarded, and chaos prevailed among the medical staff, I grabbed the child on my own and took him to Shifa Hospital,” Zeid told Maan News Agency.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Jabir Abu, a cousin of the boy’s slain father, said it was believed that the child was dead and buried under the rubble of his family’s home. But after four days of digging, no body was found.
Despite the severe nature of Yamin’s wounds, a relative did recognize the toddler at al-Shifa Hospital. It was a bittersweet reunion; even as Yamin was found, Gaza residents were counting their dead children by the hundreds.
According to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s organization, some 430 children are among the nearly 1,900 Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, killed by Israeli forces during the month-long war targeting Hamas and other militant resistance fighters who have launched thousands of rockets and mortars against the Jewish state. Thousands more children have been wounded, many have been left without relatives as many whole families have been wiped out, and 373,000 children suffered traumatic experiences and need immediate psychological help.
“There isn’t a single family in Gaza which hasn’t been touched by direct loss,” Pernille Ironside, head of the UNICEF office in Gaza, told the New York Times. “The impact that has on the ability of children to cope cannot be overstated.”
As a shaky 72-hour ceasefire continued to hold through Wednesday, concerns grew that Gaza could soon be facing a major public health crisis. Israel’s bombing of numerous hospitals and clinics, as well as its destruction of Gaza’s only power plant, has exacerbated an already dire water and electricity crisis, threatening diarrhea and disease, as well as malnutrition.
“Most people have not had any access to water through the system for several weeks now,” said Ironside. “They are in a terrible state in terms of being able to access any kind of clean drinking water that’s not contaminated by sewage.”
“There’s only a very limited amount of water available, which means there’s insufficient water for hygiene,” Ironside told Reuters. “We see children coming out of shelters with scabies, lice, all kinds of communicable diseases.”