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'Who will call me mother?': Gazan woman mourns twin babies killed in strike

By AFP - Mar 03,2024 - Last updated at Mar 03,2024

Rania Abu Anza (centre) the mother of twin babies Naeem and Wissam, killed in an overnight Israeli air strike, mourns their death ahead of their burial in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday (AFP photo)

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories — As men searched for survivors beneath a Gaza home pummelled by an air strike, Rania Abu Anza gazed down on Sunday at two children who did not survive: Her infant twins.

The Palestinian woman said she had gone through multiple rounds of fertility treatment to achieve her dream of becoming a mother, only to have it taken away by the carnage in the Gaza Strip. 

"Who will call me mother from now on? Who will call me mother?" she said through tears on Sunday as she clutched her lifeless babies, the face of one still spattered with blood. 

The health ministry in Gaza said Wissam and Naeem, not yet six months old, were among 14 people killed in the overnight strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which it blamed on Israel. 

All of the dead were members of the Abu Anza family. 

They joined the 30,410 fatalities, most of them women and children, reported by the ministry since Israel launched military operations to eliminate Hamas last October. 

The campaign came in response to the Palestinian group's unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, according to an AFP tally of official figures. 

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment on the Rafah strike. 


'All of them children' 


While Rania Abu Anza waited to bury her son and daughter, back at the rubble of the family home men shouted the names of those they hoped had survived: "Yasser! Ahmed! Sajjar!" 

Israel says its campaign is intended to eliminate Hamas fighters, but Shehda Abu Anza, who said the home belonged to his uncle, insisted it housed only civilians. 

“They were sleeping at eleven-o-clock at night. All of them children. Honestly there was no military presence in the house, only civilians,” he said. 

“No soldiers, only civilians.” 

Another relative, Arafat Abu Anza, bemoaned the lack of equipment to extract possible survivors. 

“There are 15 people in the house... I’m cleaning the area. We are trying to extract people, to see where they are. Four floors fell.” 

Nearly 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, raising fears of mass casualties should Israel go ahead with a planned invasion of the city. 

Mediators are trying to lock in a truce that would at least temporarily halt the fighting before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on March 10 or 11, depending on the lunar calendar. 

A senior Hamas official told AFP the group had sent a delegation to Cairo, and Egyptian state-linked media said envoys from the United States and Qatar had also arrived for talks on Sunday. 

Any deal will come too late for Rania Abu Anza, who recounted the chaos of the strike and how she was told her children were gone. 

“I started shouting, ‘My children, my children,’” she said. 


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