Six-year-old Suzy Eshkuntana woke up alone in Gaza’s largest hospital. She was taken there after being removed from the rubble of her home, destroyed in an attack by Israel that killed her mother and four of her brothers.
The young girl, who was trapped for seven hours under the rubble, found her father, also injured, at Shifa hospital.
“Forgive me, my daughter. You yelled at me to come to you, but I couldn’t go,” Riyad Eshkuntana told the girl, after the doctors put the two together, in beds. close together.
The family was affected by an attack in the early hours of Sunday (16) in Gaza City, which killed at least 42 people, including ten children, according to local medical authorities. It is the deadliest action since the outbreak of the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. With that, the total number of deaths from Israeli bombing reached 192 in one week.
Israel says the attacks target the leaders of the Gaza-controlling Hamas group and other jihadist groups, which in total have fired 2,800 missiles at Israeli towns since the onset of the current crisis. The Gaza attacks killed ten people in Israel, including two children.
“The reason for these losses is that Hamas is attacking us criminally from civilian quarters,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told CBS.
The Eshkuntana family home was in the area next to a Hamas tunnel system in Gaza, which was attacked by Israel. When the tunnels collapsed after the bombing, neighboring buildings also collapsed.
Dozens of rescuers, police, relatives and neighbors gathered to help search for the wreckage of the family home. After several hours of work, the officials started saying “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) – a sign that someone has been found alive.
Suzy, covered in dust and too weak to lift her head, cried when she was taken to the ambulance.
At the hospital, concerned relatives asked for details when the victims arrived. “Is this Yehya? Is this Yehya?” Shouted from men and women waiting at the reception, just before medics told them Suzy’s four-year-old brother was dead. Two women passed out on hearing the news.
A few minutes later, the body of a girl was brought in. “They brought Dana. Dana, Dana, are you okay?” But the girl was also dead, along with another brother and sister.
Seeing Suzy with her eyes open brought them a brief moment of joy, before she was taken for exams. Doctors said she was injured, but not seriously injured, and took her on a stretcher near her father’s.
Riyad Eshkuntana said he believed the family were safe in this house, as there were doctors living in the same building. And he had placed the children in a part of the residence that seemed safe in the event of an attack.
“Suddenly a rocket came, with fire and flames, and destroyed two walls,” he told Reuters. As the parents ran to find the children, a second explosion occurred which knocked the ceiling down.
“I heard my son Zain calling ‘daddy, daddy’, but I couldn’t turn around and look at him because I was under arrest,” he said.
When rescuers made the first call for survivors, Eshkuntana was too weak to scream. Half an hour later, he managed to call for help and be found.
Lying on the bed next to his daughter, his head bandaged, he said that, first, he wanted to die. “I was feeling all the rage in the universe, but when I heard that one of my daughters was alive, I said ‘thank you, my God’.”