Gaza rescuers go missing on mission to save girl trapped in a car

(Photo: PRCS)
The post by the Palestine Red Crescent was a haunting plea, hoping to learn the fate of three people not heard from for five days.

“Where is Hind? Where are Ahmed and Yousef? We need to know,” it said.اضافة اعلان

Two of the group’s rescuers were dispatched Monday to find six-year-old Hind Rajab, believed to be trapped in a vehicle in the northern Gaza Strip with several dead family members.

The Red Crescent said one of its workers had spoken extensively by phone with Hind on Monday and that it believed that all six of her relatives inside the vehicle with her had been killed that same day by Israeli fire.

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) said it was not aware of the incident.

The Red Crescent said in a statement Saturday evening, “118 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.”

It was the latest in a series of desperate posts the aid organization has put out daily since the rescuers went missing, counting the hours since their disappearance to draw attention to the plight of all three.
The Red Crescent said a response coordinator, Rana al-Faqeh, had spoken to Hind for more than three hours Monday afternoon, trying to soothe the frightened child.

“Come get me,” Hind pleaded, according to an audio recording of the conversation released on social media Tuesday by the Red Crescent. “I’m scared. Please come. Please call someone to come get me.” The recording could not be independently verified.

As the sun went down, Hind told al-Faqeh that she was afraid of the dark. Al-Faqeh told reporters that she sought to reassure Hind, saying they were trying to send people to rescue her.

After al-Faqeh spoke to Hind, the Red Crescent sent the two rescuers in an ambulance to her vehicle in Gaza City, which was near a gas station. The rescuers confirmed that they arrived at about 6 p.m. Monday.

Then they lost contact and have not been heard from since.

The Red Crescent said it had coordinated the movements of the ambulance with the Israeli military, which invaded Gaza after the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls the territory. Similar coordination is done by other aid organizations operating in Gaza, including UN agencies.

The Red Crescent has called on the international community to pressure the Israeli military to account for what happened.

The group said it first learned of Hind’s plight from her family members elsewhere in Gaza City. They gave the organization the phone number of someone inside the car.

In an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic aired Wednesday, Hind’s mother said she had spoken Monday to her daughter and an older cousin, 15-year-old Layan Hamadeh, who was with her in the car.

The Red Crescent; Hind’s mother, who was not named in the interview; and an uncle, Issam Hamadeh, who was also interviewed by Al Jazeera, all said that Layan’s parents and her three siblings were killed.
The Red Crescent said it also spoke briefly to Layan on Monday. When she answered the phone, she was panicked, according to another audio recording posted Tuesday by the organization on social media.

“They are shooting at us. The tank is next to us,” Layan said on the recording, which could not be independently verified. Then a barrage of shooting is heard. She screams before the line goes silent.

The Red Crescent said it believed that Layan, too, had been killed. Hind’s mother said in the Al Jazeera interview that her daughter also told her Layan was dead.

Hind’s mother told Al Jazeera that she tried to calm her daughter by reciting verses from the Quran and praying. But she had to hang up so the Red Crescent could call Hind and figure out where she was.

Her mother said one of the last things Hind said to her was, “Don’t leave me, mama. I’m hungry. I’m hurt.”

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