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“The tank is very close”: a 6-year-old Palestinian girl’s desperate cry for help (and her tragic end)

The voice on the other end was a faint whisper. It was the voice of a 6-year-old girl, barely audible on a cell phone coming from Gaza.

“The tank is close to me. It’s moving.”

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Sitting in the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency response center, Rana tried to remain calm.

“It’s very close?”

“Very, very close,” the girl replied. “Are you coming to find me? I’m so scared.”

Rana could do nothing but continue talking.

Back rajabSix years old, She was trapped under fire in Gaza City and begged for help, hiding inside her uncle’s car, surrounded by the bodies of her relatives.

Rana’s voice was his only weak link to the world he knew.

Hind had left her home in Gaza City that day with her uncle, aunt and five cousins.

It was Monday, January 29th. That morning, the Israeli army ordered the population to evacuate the western areas of the city and head south along the coastal road.

Hind’s mother, Wissam, remembers that there was heavy shelling in her area. “We were terrified and wanted to run away,” he said. “We were fleeing from one place to another to avoid air attacks.”

The family decided to go to Ahli Hospital, in the east of the city, hoping it would be a safer place to take refuge.


Wissam and his eldest son started walking there. Hind got a seat in her uncle’s car, a black Kia Piccanto.

“It was very cold and raining,” explained Wissam. “I told Hind to go by car because I didn’t want him to suffer in the rain.”

He said as soon as the car left, They heard loud gunshots coming from the same direction.

“Let them sleep”

As Hind’s uncle drove to the city’s famous al-Azhar University, the car is believed to have unexpectedly come face to face with Israeli tanks.

They stopped at the gas station near Fares for security reasons and were reportedly attacked.

Inside the vehicle, the family asked family members for help. One of them contacted the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency headquarters, 80 kilometers away in the occupied West Bank.

It was around 2:30 pm (12:30 GMT): operators at the Red Crescent call center in Ramallah called Hind’s uncle’s cell phone, but her 15-year-old daughter, Layan, answered.

In the recorded call, Layan told Red Crescent staff that his parents and brothers died and that there is a tank next to the car.

“They’re shooting at us,” he says, before the conversation ends with the sound of gunshots and screams.

When the Red Crescent team calls again, it is Hind who answers, her voice barely audible, choked with fear.

It soon becomes clear that she She is the only survivor in the car and is still in the line of fire.

“Hide under the seats,” says the staff. “Don’t let anyone see you.”

Operator Rana Faqih remained on the line with Hind for hours as the Red Crescent appealed to the Israeli military to allow its ambulance access to the scene.

“I was shaking, sad, asking for help,” recalls Rana. “He told us that (his relatives) were dead. But then he described them as ‘sleeping’. So we told him ‘let them sleep, we don’t want to disturb them’.”

Hind kept asking, repeatedly, for someone to come and get her.

“At one point she told me it was getting dark,” Rana told the BBC. “I was scared. He asked me how far my house was. I was paralyzed and helpless.”

Three hours after the call began, an ambulance was finally sent to rescue Hind.

Hind's grandfather, Bahaa Hamada, said the girl said she saw an ambulance in the distance.

Hind’s grandfather, Bahaa Hamada, said the girl said she saw an ambulance in the distance.

Meanwhile, Red Crescent staff contacted Hind’s mother, Wissam, and connected her phone line to the call.

He cried more when he heard his mother’s voice, Rana recalls.

“She begged me not to hang up,” Wissam told the BBC. “I asked her where she was hurt, then I distracted her by reading the Quran with her and we prayed together. She repeated every word I said.”

It was already evening when the ambulance team, Yousef and Ahmad, notified the operators that they were approaching the scene and that Israeli forces were about to check in to let them in.

It was the last time traders heard from their colleagues or Hind. The line, for both the paramedics and the six-year-old girl they came to rescue, has been permanently cut.

Hind’s grandfather, Bahaa Hamada, told the BBC that the girl’s phone call with her mother lasted a few moments longer and that the last thing Wissam heard was the sound of the car door opening and Hind telling him that I could see the ambulance in the distance.

The tragic result

This weekend, the girl was found dead along with several relatives and the two paramedics. Apparently they were attacked by Israeli tanks.

Palestine Red Crescent paramedics managed to arrive on Saturday 10 February to the area that had already been It was closed because it was a combat zone..

They found the black Kia car Hind was traveling in: the windshield and front end were smashed and bullet holes littered the sides of the car.

Car in which Hind was traveling.

Car in which Hind was traveling.

A few meters away were the remains of another vehicle, completely burned and with the engine scattered across the ground. This, says the Red Crescent, is the ambulance sent to look for Hind.

In a statement, the Palestinian Red Crescent accused Israel of attacking the ambulance as it arrived at the scene on January 29.

“The (Israeli) occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent team despite obtaining prior coordination to allow the ambulance to reach the scene to rescue the Hind girl,” the statement said.

“We managed to coordinate with them, we got the green light,” the institution’s spokesperson, Nibal Farsakh, told me earlier this week. “Upon arrival, (paramedics) confirmed that they could see the car where Hind was trapped and that they could see her. The last thing we heard were continuous gunshots.“.

The BBC twice asked the Israeli military for details about its operations in the area that day and about Hind’s disappearance and the ambulance sent to rescue her. The answer was that they were checking what happened.

We again ask for your response to the accusations made by the Palestinian Red Crescent on Saturday.

The rules of war say that medical personnel must be protected and not targeted in conflict, and that injured people must receive the medical care they need.

Israel has previously accused Hamas of using ambulances to transport its weapons and fighters.

The remains of the ambulance were completely burned.

The remains of the ambulance were completely burned.

Recordings of Hind’s conversations with call operators sparked a campaign to find out what had happened to him.

Hind’s mother told us, before her body was discovered, that she was expecting her daughter “any moment, any second.”

Now he demands that someone be held accountable.

“To every person who heard my voice and my daughter’s pleading voice but did not rescue her, I will question them before God on the Day of Judgment“, he told the BBC.

“Netanyahu, Biden and all those who collaborated against us, against Gaza and its people, I pray against them from the bottom of my heart.”

Additional reporting by Haneen Abdeen and James Bryant

Source: Elcomercio

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