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Israeli forces shoot a Palestinian girl and her family after she called for help

The Palestinian Red Crescent released an audio recording of a 15-year-old Palestinian girl Layan Hamadeh who was killed after contacting Red Crescent teams for help from inside her family's car which was surrounded by Israeli tanks in Gaza. The fate of her six-year-old relative Hind remains unknown. The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Tuesday that it lost contact with a team of paramedics who went to rescue Hind who was trapped inside the vehicle after all six of her family members were killed.

January 31, 2024 at 3:03 pm

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society released an audio recording of some of 6-year-old Hind Rajab’s three-hour phone conversation with desperate dispatchers on Monday as they waited for fighting in the area to calm before sending help.

“Hind kept asking us to come and get her, to send someone to get her. She said it was getting dark,” dispatcher Rana Al-Faqeh told Reuters, her voice choking with emotion.

She said her emergency rescue team “felt paralysed”.

“I told her if night falls and we still can’t send a team to try to close her eyes and pretend we were playing hide and seek. To close her eyes and start counting,” she said, adding that she could hear shots ring out in the background during the call.

Although the Red Crescent decided it was safe enough to send an ambulance four hours after the call began, they soon lost contact with it and have had no further contact with either its two crew or with Rajab.

The first to speak with the Red Crescent was Rajab’s 15-year-old relative, Layan Hamadeh, trapped in the same vehicle near a petrol station in Gaza City, as Israeli tanks and troops approached.

“They are shooting at us. The tank is next to me,” Hamadeh can be heard saying on another audio recording released by the Red Crescent, and could then be heard yelling at the rattle of a burst of gunfire.

Hamadeh and five other family members were killed, according to the Red Crescent.

The Israeli military said it was not aware of the incident.

The only survivor, Rajab, stayed on the line talking to Al-Faqeh and a psychological support specialist for three hours, trying to soothe her as they prepared to send an ambulance.

Palestinian rescue workers face impossible decisions in Gaza after nearly four months of war under intense Israeli bombardment, tight restrictions on their movement and frequent communications blackouts.

“Hind and Layan’s story is one of hundreds among the calls our teams receive daily. In many cases, we aren’t able to help because the (Israeli) occupation, wherever it has tanks, declares the area a military zone despite the presence of civilians,” Red Crescent spokesperson, Nebal Farsakh, said.

Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians according to Gaza health authorities, displaced most of the Strip’s 2.3 million population and plunged the blockaded coastal enclave into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Israel says its goal is to destroy Hamas, the group that led a surprise attack on southern Israeli towns and military bases on 7 October, in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 seized as hostages.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Farsakh urged the international community and humanitarian organisations to intervene however they could and help reveal the fate of Hind and the two Red Crescent rescuers.

READ: 30 Palestinians held by Israel found dead, handcuffed inside Gaza school: NGO