22 Apr 2024

Baby in Gaza saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

9:42 am on 22 April 2024

By Mohammad Salem and Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters

A Palestinian doctor tends to a baby born prematurely after his mother was killed during Israeli bombardment, at the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The baby's sister wanted to name her Rouh, meaning spirit in Arabic. Photo: AFP

A baby girl was delivered from the womb of a Palestinian killed along with her husband and daughter by an Israeli attack in the Gaza city of Rafah, where 19 people died overnight in intensified strikes, Palestinian health officials said.

The dead, killed in hits on two houses, included 13 children from one family, they said.

The baby, weighing 1.4 kg and delivered in an emergency C-section, was stable and improving gradually, said Dr Mohammed Salama, who was caring for her.

Her mother, Sabreen Al-Sakani, had been 30 weeks pregnant.

The baby was placed in an incubator in a Rafah hospital alongside another infant, with the words 'The baby of the martyr Sabreen Al-Sakani' written on tape across her chest.

Sakani's young daughter Malak, who was killed in the strike, had wanted to name her new sister Rouh, meaning spirit in Arabic, said her uncle Rami Al-Sheikh. "The little girl Malak was happy that her sister was coming to the world," he said.

The baby would stay in hospital for three to four weeks, Salama said.

"After that, we will see about her leaving, and where this child will go, to the family, to the aunt or uncle or grandparents. Here is the biggest tragedy, even if this child survives, she was born an orphan," he said.

The 13 children were killed in a strike on the second home, belonging to the Abdel Aal family, according to Palestinian health officials. Two women were also killed in that strike.

A Palestinian man wait for news of his daughter as rescue workers search for survivors under the rubble of a building hit in an overnight Israeli bombing in c, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 21, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

A Palestinian man wait for news of his daughter as rescue workers search for survivors under the rubble of a building hit in an Israeli bombing, in the southern Gaza strip, on 21 April, 2024. Photo: AFP

Asked about the casualties in Rafah, an Israeli military spokesperson said various militant targets were struck in Gaza including military compounds, launch posts and armed people.

"Did you see one man in all of those killed?" said Saqr Abdel Aal, a Palestinian man whose family were among the dead, grieving over the body of a child in a white shroud.

"All are women and children," he said. "My entire identity has been wiped out, with my wife, children and everyone."

Mohammad al-Behairi said his daughter and grandchild were still under the rubble.

"It's a feeling of sadness, depression, we have nothing left in this life to cry for, what feeling shall we have? When you lose your children, when you lose the closest of your loved ones, how will your feeling be?" he said.

'We are trapped'

Over half of Gaza's 2.3 million people have crowded into Rafah, seeking shelter from the Israeli offensive that has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip over the past six months.

Israel is threatening a ground offensive into the area, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said fighters from the militant group Hamas must be eliminated to ensure Israel's victory in the war.

US President Joe Biden has urged Israel not to launch a large-scale offensive in Rafah to avoid more Palestinian civilian casualties.

Palestinian health authorities say more than 34,000 people have been killed in Israel's assault, which began after Hamas fighters attacked Israel on 7 October, killing some 1200 people and abducting another 253, according to Israeli tallies.

The Palestinian health ministry said on Sunday that Israeli military strikes killed 48 Palestinians and wounded 79 others across the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said teams recovered 60 bodies from the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern of the enclave, weeks after Israeli army forces retreated from the medical complex. That raised to 210 the number of bodies it had dug out from the hospital yards since 12 April.

The service said in a statement there were still around 2000 missing persons under the rubble in Khan Younis and 1000 in the central areas of the Gaza Strip, whose bodies could not be extracted because of a lack of heavy equipment and machinery for rubble removal.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

In the larger of the two Palestinian territories, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israel said its soldiers opened fire at three Palestinians who attacked them and the Palestinian health ministry said all three had died. Violence has flared in the West Bank in recent days.

- Reuters

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