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Six-year-old girl and rescue team found dead in Gaza 12 days after call for help

A six-year-old Palestinian girl who called for help as she sat stranded in a car beside her dead relatives in Gaza last month has been found dead, reports say.

“I’m so scared, please come,” Hind Rajab pleaded in a telephone call to rescuers as she lay surrounded by her dead family members in the Tel al-Hawa area of Gaza City on 29 January.

She had been fleeing the city with her aunt, uncle, and three cousins when the black Kia car they were travelling in came under fire.

The young girl had managed to phone for help, but the desperate phone call was cut off amid the sound of thunderous gunfire.

This undated handout photograph obtained courtesy of the family shows six-year-old Palestinian girl Hind Rajab posing for a picture. Rajab had been in a car with family members on January 29 as they attempted to flee from approaching Israeli forces in the Tel al-Hawa area of Gaza City, but they ended up in the paths of Israeli tanks and were fired on. A Red Crescent ambulance crew that was deployed to rescue them has not been seen since. (Photo by FAMILY HANDOUT / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / FAMILY HANDOUT " --- NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS --- DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS --- NO ARCHIVE --- (Photo by -/FAMILY HANDOUT/AFP via Getty Images)
Family members found Hind’s body along with those of her uncle and aunt and their three children (Photo: FAMILY HANDOUT/AFP via Getty Images)

Family members found Hind’s body along with those of her uncle and aunt and their three children still in a car near a roundabout in the Tel al-Hawa suburb of Gaza City on Saturday, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

The windows of the vehicle were all found smashed following the shelling.

“Hind and everyone else in the car is martyred,” Hind’s grandfather, Baha Hamada, told Agence France-Presse.

The rescuers from the Red Crescent, named as Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun, had been dispatched to find Hind 12 days earlier on 29 January.

Their bodies were fond in a burnt out ambulance close to the scene, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said.

GAZA CITY, GAZA - FEBRUARY 10: A view of the heavy damaged ambulance going to aid Rajab family, which was targeted by Israeli forces and became unusable, Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on February 10, 2024. After the Israeli forces withdrew from the region, it was seen that an ambulance going to the region to help the 6-year-old Hind Rajab and five members of her family, who was shot in the Israeli attack, was also targeted by the Israeli forces. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said six-year-old girl Hind Rajab, who was trapped in her family car after it came under Israeli army in Gaza City, was found dead after nearly two weeks of uncertainty. The non-profit in a statement late Friday said the bodies of the child, and two of its paramedics, Youssef Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoon, who went out on a mission to rescue the little girl on Jan. 29 had been found. (Photo by Dawoud Abo Alkas/Anadolu via Getty Images)
A view of the heavily damaged ambulance going to aid Rajab family (Photo: Dawoud Abo Alkas/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Following the discovery, the PRCSy said Israeli forces are “deliberately targeted the ambulance upon its arrival at the scene, where it was found just meters away from the vehicle containing the trapped child Hind”.

“The occupation (Israel Defence Force) deliberately targeted the Palestine Red Crescent ambulance crew,” read a statement from the aid group posted on X.

The Israeli military has not commented on the incident.

During the course of the war, the Israeli military has said it takes steps to avoid civilian casualties but has faced strong international criticism over the casualty toll.

According to the Gaza’s health authorities more than 27,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began after Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and seizing an estimated 253 hostages.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now ordered the IDF to evacuate Rafah ahead of an anticipated group assault. The United State, European Union and United Nations have all warned against the evacuation.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borell said Israel’s military offensive was “alarming”, and would lead to “catastrophic consequences worsening the already dire humanitarian situation”.

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