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Israel-Gaza: Family of five-year-old Palestinian mourn beloved daughter killed in air strike

Alaa Qaddoum was playing outside her home on Friday afternoon before Israeli shelling killed her and her cousin 
Five-year-old Alaa Qaddoum, who was killed by an Israeli air strike on 5 August 2022 (MEE/Samar Abu Elouf)
By Hind Khoudary in Gaza City, occupied Palestine

With no electricity at home, five-year-old Alaa Qaddoum ventured outside on Friday afternoon to escape the stifling heat indoors. 

Playing with friends in the vicinity of Abu Samra Mosque in the Shujaiya neighbourhood north of Gaza, everything seemed normal to Qaddoum as worshippers prepared for the Asr afternoon prayer. 

Then, in a matter of seconds, Israeli fighter jets bombed the area, killing her among others, making Alaa among the first victims of Israel's latest bombing campaign on the besieged Palestinian enclave.

"Alaa was an innocent five-year-old playing in the street with her brothers and cousins. What did she do to be killed?" a cousin, Abu Diab Qaddoum, told Middle East Eye as he waited outside the intensive care unit at Al Shifa Hospital, where Alaa's father, Abdallah Qaddoum, was being treated. 

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Abdallah, 30, sustained serious injuries in the strike and is now receiving critical care.

Along with Alaa, the strike killed Yousef Qaddoum, Alaa's cousin and the mosque's muezzin, who calls for prayer. 

Alaa was killed immediately when shrapnel hit her forehead, chest, and right leg, according to Mohammed Abu Selmeyeh, director of Al Shifa Hospital.

Riyad, Alaa's seven-year-old brother, was also hit in the head by shrapnel and is  receiving treatment.

(MEE/Samar Abu Ouf)
An aunt of five-year-old Alaa Qaddoum, who was killed by an Israeli air strike on 5 August 2022, holds up her blood-stained shirt (MEE/Samar Abu Elouf) (MEE/Samar Abu Ouf)

"They are the light of my eyes," their 28-year-old mother, who did not wish to give a name, said as her eyes welled up with tears.

The pair's aunt also couldn't hold her tears speaking to MEE. "Her blood hasn't dried yet," she said as she held Alaa's blood-splattered pink and white shirts.

'Was that her crime?'

At Al Shifa hospital, one half of Qaddoum's family were gathered near the treatment rooms of Riyad and his father Abdalla, waiting on good news, while the other half stayed at home to host mourners.

"Alaa was very excited, preparing herself for pre-school. We were supposed to buy her a new bag and stationery," Alaa's grandma told MEE. "Was that her crime?" she asked. "Dreaming of buying a new bag to go to kindergarten?" 

As mourners visited the family to pay their respects, Alaa's play doll, "Tala," lay alone in her empty bed. 

"She used to love Tala," her aunt said. The doll is now something that Alaa's younger sister has to keep her memory alive.

(MEE/Samar Abu Ouf)
Alaa Qaddoum's doll "Tala" on the five-year-old's empty bed in her home in Shujaiya neighbourhood north of Gaza on 5 August 2022 (MEE/Samar Abu Elouf)

The quiet of the funeral home in Qaddoum's house was interrupted by loud explosions, as the Israeli army continued to pummel Gaza. 

In the first 24 hours since the operation started, 15 Palestinians have been killed, and 125 wounded. 

Many are in critical condition, just like Alaa's father and brother, according to the health ministry in Gaza. 

Abu Salmiyeh told MEE the health sector is not prepared for war and faces a severe shortage of supplies as a result of the Israeli blockade, putting at risk the lives of those in critical care. 

"We are appealing to the international community to supply Gaza hospitals with the necessary supplies and fuel," he told MEE.

Gaza's only power plant was shut down on Saturday, due to Israeli prevention of fuel trucks from entering the strip.

The health sector, already experiencing a 40 percent shortage of medical supplies, 30 percent of the required emergency and surgical supplies and 60 percent of laboratory and blood bank supplies, is now on the brink of collapse. 

'We are appealing to the international community to supply Gaza hospitals with the necessary supplies and fuel'

- Mohammed Abu Selmeyeh, director of Al Shifa Hospital

"The power outage poses a serious threat to the work of vital departments in hospitals, especially emergency departments, intensive care, operations, dialysis departments, laboratories, nurseries, laundries, oxygen systems and medical gases," the ministry said in a statement.

"The Ministry of Health calls on all international, humanitarian and relief institutions to stand up to their responsibilities to pressure the Israeli occupation to allow patients in need of critical care to pass through the Beit Hanoun crossing immediately and work to supply health facilities with their urgent needs and fuel supplies."

The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli occupation since 1967, along with East Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

The small enclave between Israel and Egypt, home to more than two million people, has been under an Israeli-led blockade for more than 15 years.

In the same period, successive Israeli governments have launched repeated military campaigns on Gaza, killing and wounding hundreds. 

In the most recent bombardment, Israeli forces killed 256 Palestinians in 11 days in May 2021, including 66 children.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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