A baby girl dies in the haze of Gaza

A thin boy named Ammar, who’s 12 however appears to be like a lot youthful, spent Monday enjoying together with his sister’s 10-month-old daughter, Layla, on the cramped house the place they each lived within the Gaza Strip.

When the blue-eyed toddler appeared hungry, he shared a bit of flatbread together with her.

His sister, he figured, was with different members of the family on the large Palestinian protests demanding a proper to return to their ancestral homeland.

He determined to go discover them.

He carried Layla to a bus that was leaving from a close-by mosque for the encampment the place the household had been stationing itself alongside the japanese border of Gaza throughout the weeks of demonstrations.

When Ammar Rezeq reached the camp, it was teeming with hundreds of individuals, lots of them threatening to storm safety limitations and swarm into Israel. Israeli forces held them again with barrages of gunfire and tear fuel. He made his means towards a safety barrier, the place his kinfolk normally gathered.

All of the sudden he was surrounded by clouds of acrid white smoke. His niece started to cough.

“I put a shawl on my mouth and was looking for my household,” Ammar recalled.

Lastly, he discovered his mom and one in every of Layla’s aunts. They had been shocked to see him seem by way of the haze, with the toddler in his arms. The child’s mom had by no means gone to the protests that day and stayed dwelling to take a nap, they stated.

The aunt took the newborn from Ammar, and the three of them began operating towards the bus. The woman’s palms had been turning blue.

They thought she had fallen asleep on the bus, however when she wouldn’t get up, they persuaded the driving force to take them to a hospital.

Ammar watched as docs desperately tried to revive the toddler.

“I believed she would get up,” he stated, tears welling in his eyes.

Layla Ghandour
Ammar Rezeq, 12, grieves for his niece Layla Ghandour, whose title was added to a listing of martyrs launched by the Gaza Wholesome Ministry. Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Occasions

By Tuesday, Layla Ghandour had made worldwide information as an emblem of the Palestinian trigger. The Gaza Well being Ministry added her title to a listing of protest martyrs — the youngest of greater than 60 individuals who died on the bloodiest day of weeks of protests.

An Israeli navy spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, challenged the household’s account, saying, “We’ve got proof casting doubt on the truthfulness of studies in regards to the dying of a child woman within the Gaza Strip.” He didn’t elaborate.

A health care provider on the hospital the place Layla was handled stated she had a preexisting coronary heart situation that prompted her dying. He requested to not be recognized as a result of he was not approved to debate the kid’s medical historical past.

Layla’s household and the Well being Ministry acknowledged the medical difficulty, however stated tear fuel was a contributing think about her dying.

The clashes continued Tuesday as Palestinian officers reported not less than two extra fatalities close to Gaza’s frontier with Israel, pushing the two-day dying toll to 64.

Israel’s navy additionally stated scattered clashes broke out within the West Financial institution. It stated 1,300 Palestinians participated in “violent riots” at 18 places there Tuesday, with protesters burning tires and hurling rocks and firebombs at safety forces.

Gaza protests
A demonstrator rolls a tire to the entrance of the border protest in Bureij, close to Deir al Balah within the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Occasions

The most recent deaths got here as Palestinians noticed what they name the Nakba, or disaster, of their mass displacement 70 years in the past throughout hostilities surrounding the creation of Israel.

Israeli officers preserve that dwell fireplace was utilized in response to a lethal menace posed by Palestinians searching for to breach the border fence with Gaza. The navy stated that not less than 24 of these killed Monday had been militants and that within the wake of Monday’s confrontation, its plane hit greater than a dozen websites in Gaza that it described as “terror targets.”

In justifying its use of lethal drive, Israel has cited firebombs thrown by protesters and flaming kites being flown throughout the frontier. The navy stated not less than 400 protesters gathered Tuesday on the Gaza aspect and that a number of Palestinians had been apprehended as they tried to breach a fence.

However worldwide criticism of Israel has been rising.

In Geneva, U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville denounced what he referred to as the “appalling lethal violence” by Israeli forces. Eire summoned the Israeli ambassador to induce restraint.

Turkey declared three days of official mourning, reducing flags to half-staff in a salute to slain Palestinians. With Turkey having briefly expelled the Israeli ambassador in protest, Israel on Tuesday requested the Turkish consul normal in Jerusalem to briefly go away.

However on the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley staunchly defended Israel, telling the Safety Council that no member “would act with extra restraint than Israel has” within the ongoing Gaza border confrontation.

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, nonetheless, denounced the “bloodbath” in Gaza, vowing to develop the confrontation with Israel.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinians staged offended funeral processions after noon prayers. They stated their lifeless included eight kids, a Hamas police officer and a double amputee who was photographed throughout the protests utilizing a slingshot from his wheelchair.

A whole bunch of mourners marched for Layla.

Her father, Anwar Ghandour, as soon as eked out a dwelling in tunnels alongside Gaza’s border with Egypt to smuggle in meals, drugs, weapons, gasoline and different items. The tunnels had been constructed after the Islamist militant group Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 and Israel, in a bid to guard itself, imposed a stifling embargo.

However Egypt destroyed most of them after President Abdel Fattah Sisi seized energy from his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

Layla’s father hasn’t been capable of finding work since then — unemployment is sort of 50% in Gaza — and he struggles to supply for his household. A yr in the past, he and his spouse misplaced a child boy to the identical coronary heart situation that bothered Layla. Relations stated he couldn’t afford to purchase the really helpful medicines.

On the time, the couple lived in a three-bedroom house with 9 different members of his household. Furnishings was sparse, as a result of the household needed to promote it to purchase meals and different requirements. Mould coated the hallways, and the scent of sewage might be overpowering.

Layla Ghandour's burial
Relations carry the physique of Layla Ghandour, 10 months, to her burial website in Gaza Metropolis. Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Occasions

Layla’s mom, Mariam Ghandour, 18, stated she usually argued together with her husband as a result of he couldn’t afford to hire a house for them or present meals and diapers for his kids. Across the time her son died, she moved again together with her mom and grandmother.

The grandmother supported them from a stipend offered by the Palestinian Authority to the households of these killed within the wars with Israelis. Two of her sons died in earlier hostilities. Fourteen individuals lived off this cash, she stated.

The ability was out within the father’s house when he introduced Layla’s physique dwelling from the hospital. Neighbors introduced the household two buckets of water to clean her as a result of the pipes had run dry. The ladies within the household positioned the newborn in a pink, plastic basin and gently scooped water over her head by the sunshine of a cellphone.

The mom then wrapped Layla in a white shroud and a crimson, inexperienced, white and black Palestinian flag.

“Oh my lovely daughter, I misplaced you,” she sobbed, holding the tiny bundle tightly to her chest. “She is all I’ve.”

Shortly earlier than the decision to prayers sounded, the daddy took Layla to mosque to wish over her physique. He and different members of the family took turns carrying her on the march from the mosque to a close-by cemetery, previous outlets shuttered as a result of Hamas had referred to as for a normal strike.

As mourners lowered the physique into the sandy floor, a wail echoed throughout historical tombstones.

“I wish to see her one final time,” her mom pleaded.

“It’s God’s will,” the lads informed her as they shooed her away.

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Twitter: @alexzavis

Occasions workers author Laura King in Amsterdam and particular correspondents Hana Salah in Gaza Metropolis and Noga Tarnopolsky in Ramallah, West Financial institution, contributed to this report.


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