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A mother in Gaza describes losing 14 family members, including her infant twins

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More than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah in southern Gaza. According to UNICEF, that includes some 600,000 children. But with the Israeli military pursuing targets in the densely packed town, there are few safe spaces to be found. NPR's D. Parvaz and Anas Baba have more. And a warning to our listeners - this story contains mentions of harm to children.

D PARVAZ, BYLINE: An Israeli airstrike on a home in eastern Rafah killed at least 14 members of the Abu Anza family on Saturday night. Among the dead were 5-month-old twins Naeem and Wesam. The babies are among the at least 12,400 children humanitarian group Save the Children says have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war. According to Israeli officials, 38 children were killed in the October 7 Hamas-led attack. NPR producer Anas Baba, reporting from Rafah, spoke to Wesam and Naeem's grief-stricken mother, Rania Abu Anza.

RANIA ABU ANZA: (Speaking Arabic).

PARVAZ: "My heart is broken. Oh, Lord. My heart is broken. I swear it's enough," she says.

ABU ANZA: (Speaking Arabic).

PARVAZ: Rania had trouble conceiving for over a decade and underwent three rounds of in vitro fertilization before she and her husband were able to conceive Wesam and her brother Naeem. She went to sleep on Saturday night with her children and husband but woke up to a decimated family.

ABU ANZA: (Speaking Arabic).

PARVAZ: "Who will console me? My brother Adel? Who will console me?" she cries, listing the names of other family members she lost in the strike. She told Anas Baba she wished the strike had spared at least one of her children.

ANAS BABA, BYLINE: "At least they could have left me one in order to tell him the story of his brother. But now I couldn't tell the story even to myself."

PARVAZ: We reached out to the Israeli military for comment on the strike. They said that they were, quote, "operating to dismantle Hamas' military and administrative capabilities" and that the Israeli military, quote, "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." For NPR News, I'm D. Parvaz in Tel Aviv with Anas Baba in Rafah, Gaza. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

D. Parvaz
D. Parvaz is an editor at Weekend Edition. Prior to joining NPR, she worked at several news organizations covering wildfires, riots, earthquakes, a nuclear meltdown, elections, political upheaval and refugee crises in several countries.
Anas Baba
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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