An airstrike from an Israeli hostage rescue operation wipes out an entire Palestinian family in a Gaza border town

Rafah (Gaza Strip) – Ibrahim Hassouna walked tiredly over the rubble of the destroyed house, pointing to the place where family moments were held – where his mother and sister-in-law slept, and where he played with his 5-year-old son. His old nieces, where he helped his one-year-old nephew take his first steps.

His entire family was now dead: his parents, his two brothers, the wife of one of those brothers and his three children. The house turned into rubble above their heads as a result of the barrage of air strikes Israeli warplanes These raids took place around Rafah before dawn on Monday as a cover for the forces that rescued two hostages elsewhere in the city, located on the southern border of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of the Hassouna family home, which was bombed by an Israeli airstrike during an operation to rescue two hostages in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

At least 74 Palestinians They were killed in the bombing that leveled large areas of buildings and tents housing families who fled to Rafah from various parts of Gaza.

Among the dead were 27 children and 22 women, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, whose researchers collected the list from Rafah hospitals. The Israeli offensive has taken a heavy toll on women and children, with more than 12,300 Palestinian children and adolescents killed in the conflict. Ministry of Health in Gaza He said on Monday.

Ibrahim, 30 years old, arrived with his parents and siblings in Rafah a month ago, in the latest of their many movements to escape the fighting after fleeing their homes in northern Gaza. They rented a small one-story house located on the eastern side of Rafah.

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Ibrahim said about his older brother Karam’s children: “I was close to them.” At home, he said, he would play cards or hide with them to distract them from the war. He said the twin girls, Susan and Sidra, would often ask whether they were going to kindergarten and whether their teacher from kindergarten at home was alive or dead.

The blows came in a moment of joy. The families have just received three chickens – the first they will have had to eat since the war began more than four months ago.

Ibrahim Hassouna, center, the sole survivor of his family, sits amid the rubble of his bombed home in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. On Monday, February 12, Hassouna lost eight members of his family, including three children and says the house It was bombed during an Israeli operation to rescue hostages held in a building in another part of the city.  (AP Photo/Fathima Shabir)

Ibrahim Hassouna, center, the sole survivor in his family, sits amid the rubble of his bombed home in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

“The children were very happy,” Ibrahim said. The family is fed up with canned food, the main thing they have been able to get under an Israeli blockade that has allowed only a small amount of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

They planned to eat chicken on Sunday night. But during the day, Ibrahim went to visit a friend on the other side of Rafah, who convinced him to stay the night. Ibrahim called home, and they decided to postpone the precious meal so as not to miss it. Ibrahim's mother, Susan, put the chicken in the neighbor's refrigerator.

Just after 2 a.m. on Monday, Ibrahim began receiving calls from friends telling him that there were raids in the neighborhood where his family lived. When he was unable to reach them by phone, he walked and rode a motorcycle back to his home. He said he found massive destruction.

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The first thing he saw was a woman's arm thrown across the street towards the door of a nearby mosque. It was his mother. He dug through the rubble and extracted parts of his body.

He then went to Youssef Najjar Hospital and identified the bodies of his mother and father, Fawzi al-Muhandis. The body of his younger brother Muhammad had no head, but he recognized the clothes.

In the bag that the employees brought him were parts of his brother Karam and his family. Ibrahim said that he recognized parts of his niece Suzanne from her earrings and bracelet, which was the bracelet she used to fight over all the time with her sister.

He spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday while walking around the ruins of the house. He remembers how the children's noise would wake him up in the morning, but “their voices comforted me.”

He pointed to part of the wreckage. He said he would sit there with his nephew Malik “to lie in the sun and walk with him a little bit.” To walk a little and feel alive.”

Israel said that the bombing was to cover its forces, which removed two Israeli hostages from an apartment and then returned to exit Gaza. The army did not comment on why specific sites around Rafah were targeted by bombing, but Israeli officials blamed Hamas for causing civilian casualties by operating in the heart of residential areas.

The scale of bloodshed caused by the raid has raised concerns about what would happen if Israel follows through on its pledges to attack Rafah in its campaign to destroy Hamas. The city and its surrounding areas now shelter more than half of the Gaza Strip's population of 2.3 million people, after hundreds of thousands took refuge there.

The Israeli campaign on Gaza has already led to the killing of more than 28,000 Palestinians, more than 70% of whom are women and children, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The number does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of the Hassouna family home, which was bombed by an Israeli airstrike during an operation to rescue two hostages in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Ibrahim Hassouna, who was absent at the time of the airstrike, says his entire family was killed, including This includes his parents, two brothers, his sister-in-law, and three nieces and nephews.  (AP Photo/Fathima Shabir)

Palestinians inspect the ruins of the Hassouna family home, which was bombed by an Israeli airstrike during an operation to rescue two hostages in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Palestinians inspect the ruins of the Hassouna family home, which was bombed by an Israeli airstrike during an operation to rescue two hostages in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Ibrahim Hassouna, who was absent at the time of the attack in an airstrike, says his entire family was killed, including This includes his parents, two brothers, his sister-in-law, and three nieces and nephews.  (AP Photo/Fathima Shabir)

Palestinians inspect the ruins of the Hassouna family home, which was bombed by an Israeli airstrike during an operation to rescue two hostages in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Israel pledged to uproot Hamas from Gaza and recover more than 100 hostages still in the hands of the movement after the October 7 attacks in which activists killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

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