Friday, March 1, 2024

Rescue team goes missing, fate of five-year-old Palestinian girl besieged in a car with dead family remains unknown

A five-year-old Palestinian girl, who got trapped in a vehicle with the bodies of her six dead family members, was last heard from on Monday.

Hind Rajab, along with her uncle, his wife, and their children were stuck in a vehicle surrounded by Israeli forces, near a petrol station in Gaza.

Hind’s family was fleeing their locality on foot after Israeli tanks reached the area for an assault. Her mother put her in the car with some of her relatives as she found the weather too harsh for Hind to bear.

Hind’s mother Wissam Rajab heard gunfire while leaving the place and called the Red Crescent to inform that a car carrying her daughter and other family members was getting shot at, as reported by the Middle East Eye.

At first, Wissam assumed they were all dead, but she received a call from her 15-year-old cousin Layan Hamadeh, who told her that she and Hind were wounded in firing while all others were killed.

“I don’t want to die. Please call an ambulance to save us. I’m scared, the tanks are 500 metres away from me,” Layan said on the call, as quoted by MEE.

As the call got interrupted, Rajab thought they had both been killed. She tried reaching them again and the call was answered by Hind who told her she was alive, but Layan was martyred.

Layan was shot in the head and was covered in blood. Hind’s grandmother instructed her on call to cover Layan’s face and asked her not to look at it to avoid panicking.

Hind was in pain as her arm, leg, and back were wounded.

Wissam connected her daughter to the Palestinian Red Crescent helpline on a three-way call and pleaded for help. PRCS has released the audio recording of the phone call, in which the sound of firing and the little girl’s pleas could be heard. 

“Don’t leave me. I’m cold, hungry, and afraid. I’m scared of the dark, come get me,” she said.

A team of two paramedics, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed Al Madhoun, were dispatched on Monday to rescue Hind with an ambulance.

PRCS dispatchers stayed on call with Hind for more than three hours and tried to calm her down.

Rana al-Faqeh, who talked to Hind, told Reuters that she felt “paralysed” during the call.

Though the PRCS volunteers were just 15 minutes away from the vehicle, the line went dead causing further trouble.

After that, the PRCS office has not been able to contact either Hind or the paramedics. It has been five days since they have heard from them for the last time.

They reported that they lost contact with the crew on Monday and expressed “deep concern” for the safety and security of the missing crew and Hind.

“Where is Hind? Where are Ahmed and Yousef? We need to know. More than 110 hours have passed, and the fate of the PRCS ambulance team, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al Madhoun who went to rescue the 6-year-old girl, Hind, remains unknown,” PRCS posted on X.

Hind’s family has appealed to international organisations and rights groups to help them find Hind.

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