‘I’m afraid of the dark’: Gaza girl, six, makes rescue plea surrounded by dead family

Recording of desperate phone call is released as search for Palestinian child Hind goes on

Hind, six, who was trapped in her family's vehicle in Gaza as fighting raged around her. Photo: Wafa
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The sound of gunshots and the smell of death was surrounding six-year-old Hind, who was under a barrage of fire while some of her family members lay dead beside her in their car in Gaza city.

In a widely shared audio clip released by the Palestinian Red Crescent, her relative Layan is making a frantic call to paramedics asking for help.

Gunfire can be heard in the background. Layan repeats Israeli tanks are approaching the car, before sending a piercing scream down the line to the PRC team in Ramallah.

"Hello? Hello?" says the central operations room officer on the other end of the line.

But the worst happened.

By the time the team calls back, the voice on the line is a much younger one. It is Hind. She stays on the phone for two hours, while paramedics in Gaza wait to be authorised to even start moving towards the location.

"Come take me. How far is your house away from me?" Hind innocently asks response co-ordinator Rana Al Faqeh.

"It's getting dark," she would later say as she waits. "I'm afraid of the dark."

Hind's fate remains unknown, as is that of the driver and paramedic who left the PRC base at Al Ahli Arab Hospital, using the only ambulance still running in Gaza city, more than 66 hours ago.

"We hope they've just been arrested," Osama Al Kahlout, who heads the PRC's operations room in southern Gaza, told The National.

Shooting directly at civilians is a war crime, according to international law.

The conversation was painful to recount for the emergency workers who spoke to Hind.

Ms Al Faqeh said the child would cry, scream, gain strength then become silent.

"Is there gunfire around you?" Ms Al Faqeh asks.

"Yes! Take me," Hind begs.

"I want to take you but it's not in my hands right now," Ms Al Faqeh responds.

"My emotions are very mixed," Ms Al Faqeh said. Hearing the voice of that little girl and not being able to do anything about it but stay on the line was a painful experience, she explained in an interview shared by the PRC.

Omar Al Qam, another responder who spoke to Layan, said his own emotional state was at "rock bottom" after receiving the call.

"Being in a situation where someone is begging you for help and not being able to do anything about it ... it's depressing," he said.

Updated: February 10, 2024, 8:18 AM