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Five Members of the Same Family were Killed in Gaza Air Strikes, US Relatives Say

A mother-of-four who died with two of her children in an Israeli air strike on Gaza has been described as intelligent and kind by her family in Minnesota.

Heba, 42, was killed when her family home was hit.

An ocean away in Blaine, Minnesota her relatives were glued to social media, hoping to hear news of their safety.

Instead, they were devastated to learn that in total, five relatives were killed.

“Our life has come to a standstill,” Jehad Adwan told the BBC, adding that he and his wife have been gripped with anxiety and grief since learning of the deaths.

“No-one is spared the trauma and suffering,” he said.

Several generations had lived in the housing complex that was home to about 30 people in Khan Younis, which is the hometown of his wife, Fatma Abumousa.

Mr Adwan said their home was struck twice last Sunday.

“It was very surreal, to see your hometown is being bombed in front of you, and you’re sitting thousands of miles away, and you don’t know whether your family is safe,” he said.

Heba, one of the victims, was Ms Abumousa’s sister-in-law. She was an accomplished architect and author, Mr Adwan said. He described her as a “very highly educated, very kind woman”.

Her 18-year-old son, Hmaid, also died. Mr Adwan said he had just finished high school and was looking to study engineering in Germany, and described him as “very brilliant”,

Also killed was his younger brother, seven-year-old Abdelrahman, who had just started first grade.

Another nephew of Ms Abumousa’s, five-year-old Yusef, was killed. Mr Adwan said he was playing with his cousins when the airstrike hit their home.

Hani, a cousin of Ms Abumousa’s in his 40s, was also killed. Mr Adwan said he went to rescue his nephews after the first blast, and was killed by the second.

Heba’s two other children, 12-year-old Sham and 16-year-old Abdullah, were both seriously injured with shrapnel wounds to the back and the leg and are in hospital, Mr Adwan said.

Yusef’s siblings, two children aged 12 and eight, were also wounded in the blast.

Some of the victims were relatives who lived in north Gaza, Mr Adwan said, but had evacuated south after orders from the Israeli army.

The couple says they have watched on horrified since the war began on 7 October, after Hamas broke out of the Gaza Strip and attacked Israeli civilians in nearby towns.

About 1,400 Israelis were killed in the attacks, officials said. In Gaza, health officials said more than 4,000 people have been killed so far as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues.

Mr Adwan said the situation was made even more difficult by the lack of power in Gaza, which has limited the amount of information the couple is able to get on their loved ones.

Since hearing about the deaths, the couple has been feeling “a lot of anguish”, he said, as Ms Abumousa was very close to the children that were killed.

Ms Abumousa, who moved to the US three years ago and is a lab technician, worked in a Gaza hospital during the 2014 war.

“It was a very hard time,” she recalled. “But I think this time is at least one hundred times harder.”

Israel has said that its mission is to eliminate Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but Mr Adwan said his family members are all innocent civilians who were indiscriminately killed by the Israeli army.

“Hmaid, Abelrahman, Yusef, Heba, Hani and all the other kids that were injured belonged to no political party,” he said. “Their only guilt is that they are Palestinian civilians.”

Mr Adwan said he does not see a quick resolution to this conflict.

“What I really hope for is for the Palestinians to be recognised as a people, as human beings who deserve and demand freedom, who deserve to be treated equally like any other human beings on earth,” he said.

He has also criticised attempts by the US government to block a UN resolution for a ceasefire.

The US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Wednesday that would have called for humanitarian pauses in the conflict to allow humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip.

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the US wanted to let its own diplomatic efforts “play out”.

“There has to be a resolution for this, otherwise the cycle of violence will keep coming back,” said Mr Adwan.

Source : BBC