Baby rescued from womb of mother killed in Israeli attack in Gaza

By Mohammad Salem and Nidal al-Mughrabi

RAFAH, Gaza Strip/CAIRO (Reuters) – A baby girl was delivered from the womb of a Palestinian who was killed along with her husband and daughter in an Israeli attack in the Gaza city of Rafah, where 19 people were killed overnight in intensified strikes, Palestinian health officials said.

The dead, who died in attacks on two houses, included 13 children from one family, they said.

The baby, who weighed 1.4 kg and was delivered by emergency caesarean section, was stable and gradually improving, said Mohammed Salama, a doctor who cared for her.

Her mother, Sabreen Al-Sakani, was thirty weeks pregnant.

The baby was placed in an incubator at a Rafah hospital along with another child, with the words “The baby of the martyr Sabreen Al-Sakani” written on tape on her chest.

Sakani’s young daughter Malak, who was killed in the strike, had wanted to name her new sister Rouh, which means spirit in Arabic, her uncle Rami Al-Sheikh said. “The little girl Malak was happy that her sister came into the world,” he said.

The baby would stay in the hospital for three to four weeks, said Salama, the doctor. “Then we will see if she leaves, and where this child will go, to the family, to the uncle or aunt or grandparents. Here is the greatest tragedy. Even if this child survives, she was born an orphan,” he said.

According to Palestinian health officials, the 13 children were killed in an attack on the second house, which belonged to the Abdel Aal family. Two women were also killed during that strike.

Asked about the casualties in Rafah, an Israeli military spokesman said several militant targets in Gaza were hit, including military complexes, launch points and armed people.

“Did you see one man among all the dead?” said Saqr Abdel Aal, a Palestinian man whose family was among the dead, mourning the body of a child in a white shroud.

“They’re all women and children,” he said. “My entire identity has been wiped away, with my wife, children and everyone.”

Mohammad al-Behairi said his daughter and grandchild were still under the rubble. “It is a feeling of sadness, depression, we have nothing left in this life to cry for, what feeling will we have? If you lose your children, if you lose the nearest of your loved ones, what will your feeling be like?” he said.


More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have visited Rafah, seeking shelter from the Israeli offensive that has devastated much of the Gaza Strip over the past six months.

Israel is threatening a ground offensive in the area, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said fighters from the militant group Hamas must be eliminated to ensure Israel’s victory in the war.

President Joe Biden has urged Israel not to launch a large-scale offensive in Rafah to prevent more Palestinian civilian casualties.

Palestinian health authorities say more than 34,000 people were killed in Israel’s attack, which began after Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and kidnapping another 253, according to Israeli figures.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Sunday that Israeli military strikes killed 48 Palestinians and injured 79 others in the past 24 hours in the Gaza Strip.

In the larger of the two Palestinian territories, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israel said its soldiers shot two Palestinians on Sunday who tried to shoot and stab them. The Palestinian Health Ministry said both men had died.

Abu Jehad, a Gaza City resident who is sheltering with his family in Rafah, said he feared the Israelis would invade Rafah unless a ceasefire was reached and that he would have to flee again. “We are trapped and everyone is waiting for their turn to die,” said Abu Jehad, reached by phone.

(Reporting by Mohammad Salem in Rafah, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Cairo; additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)