Rafah, Palestinian Territories:
Eight sleeping children were killed in an attack, doctors struggled but could not save an unborn child – these were the stories Gaza medics told on Thursday as Israel stepped up its airstrikes.
The Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip said children accounted for 1,524 of the 3,785 people killed since Israel launched a relentless barrage on Gaza in retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.
Grieving parents carrying the bodies of their children wrapped in white cloths through the streets of Gaza have been a familiar sight since the war began.
Doctors say they are fighting a losing battle against shortages of medicine, water and fuel to keep hospitals running.
Eight children between the ages of two and five were among 10 people from the same family killed early Wednesday in an airstrike on a house in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, relatives said.
“The children were sleeping when they destroyed the house,” said their 67-year-old grandfather Abu Mohammad Wafi al-Bakri.
– Father fled –
Diyala, Ayman, Hamada, Zaher, Uday, Jamal, Nabil and Acil all came from a large family and all slept on the ground floor. It took an hour after the raid to find their bodies, rescuers said.
“None of my children had any ties to Palestinian organizations and there were no men in the house at the time,” said Jihad al-Bakri, father of three of the children.
He had left his house an hour before the rocket hit to try to find water.
At Najjar Hospital in Rafah, doctors mourned the unborn child of a woman killed by a rocket attack early Thursday.
Arij Marwan al-Banna, seven months pregnant, and her daughters Sarah and Samya, both under 10, were killed on the spot, medical sources told AFP.
Banna fled the northern Gaza Strip to her parents’ home after Israel warned its 1.1 million residents to move south.
Doctors operated on but were unable to save her child.
She was posthumously named Fatima and her tiny body bag was placed on top of her mother’s, doctors said.
The Israeli military said Thursday it had carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Hamas’ military infrastructure in 24 hours.
Frightened Gazans flocked to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the only possible escape route from the besieged area, but it remained closed.
Dozens of people waited lonely about 100 meters from the border crossing, hoping it would reopen to let aid in and refugees out.
US President Joe Biden announced after his visit to Israel on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to allow some food, water and medicine into the Gaza Strip. He said some deliveries could be made on Friday.
Wary residents stayed away from the gates, fearing they could again be targeted by Israel’s relentless attacks after the border crossing was hit four times last week.
“I have been waiting with my family for three days in a house ten minutes away. We are ready with our bags, but we just don’t know if and when the crossing will open,” said Mohammed, a 40-year-old worker for an Italian group.
Majed, 43, who works for a German organization, told AFP: “I came alone this morning. When the border crossing opens, I will get my wife and family – they are ready.”
He estimated that about 400 foreigners, dual nationals and employees of international organizations were waiting near Rafah.
The Hamas government media office said it had no details about the aid deliveries. It said the crossing’s operations chief, Fuad Abu Btihan, was killed in the Israeli strikes.
Israel stepped up its airstrikes after Biden flew home and clouds of black smoke again rose over Gaza City.
“It was hard for three nights, but tonight was the hardest,” 60-year-old Umm Mohamed Abu Ziada told AFP.
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