GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) — Suzy Ishkontana hardly speaks or eats. It’s been two days since the 7-year-old girl was pulled from the rubble of what was once her family’s home, destroyed amid a barrage of Israeli airstrikes. She spent hours buried in the wreckage as her siblings and mother died around her.
Children are being subjected to extensive trauma in Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. For some, it’s trauma they’ve seen repeatedly throughout their short lives.
This is the fourth time in 12 years Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers have gone to war. Each time, Israel has unleashed heavy airstrikes at the densely populated Gaza Strip as it vows to stop Hamas rocket barrages launched toward Israel.
According to Gaza health officials, at least 63 children are among the 217 Palestinians who have been killed in Gaza since the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas began on May 10. On the Israeli side, 12 people have been killed by Hamas rockets, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old boy.
“They were four! Where are they? Four!” wailed one father outside a hospital after learning all four of his children had been killed. Another showed a young boy screaming “Baba,” as he ran to the front of the funeral procession where men were carrying his father’s body to burial.
The Ishkontana family was buried under the rubble of their home early Sunday, after massive bombing raids of downtown Gaza City that Israel said were targeting a Hamas tunnel network. The strikes came without warning.
Riad Ishkontana recounted to The Associated Press how he was buried for five hours under the wreckage, pinned under a chunk of concrete, unable to reach his wife and five children.
“I was listening to their voices beneath the rubble. I heard Dana and Zain calling, ‘Dad! Dad!’ before their voices faded and then I realized they had died,” he said, referring to two of his children.