"Daddy, please don't come out": He was killed while Israel was freeing hostages

Abed-Alrahman al-Najjar was killed on 12 February By Fergal Keane BBC News, Jerusalem

When Israeli special forces rescued two of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas, there was relief for their families and a boost to national morale.

But the February 12 rescue left angry feelings in Gaza, where more than 70 people were reported killed that night.

Nawara al-Najjar has been sleeping in the tent that has been her family's home in Rafah for the past five weeks, just a few hundred meters from the scene of the rescue operation.

In the following, we bring you the story published by "BBC".

Navara, who is six months pregnant, was lying on the ground that night, along with her six children – aged 13 to four – and her husband Abed-Alrahman.

They fled their home in Khan Younis, about 9 kilometers north, following instructions from the Israel Defense Forces who said Rafah was a safe area.

Before falling asleep, the couple discussed what to do with their two children who were injured. Their son suffered from burns and their daughter was recovering from facial paralysis caused by an injury sustained in the early stages of the war.

Before they became refugees, Abed-Alrahman worked whatever way he could to support his family, often as a farm laborer.

They were a strong couple who always tried to solve problems together.

"My husband was anxious, thinking how he was going to find a way to take them to treatment and where to take them," Navara says.

"Our neighbors said they wanted to take my daughter to the doctor... So we decided he would be in charge of our son and I would be in charge of my daughter."

Then something unusual happened. Navara usually slept surrounded by the children. But that night, Abed-Alrahman asked to reverse the decision.

"Before he fell asleep, he asked me to come and sleep next to him.

Shortly before 02:00 a.m., Navarre was awakened by the sound of gunfire.

Abed-Alrahman said he would go out and see what was going on.

She recounts that their eldest son begged him, "Dad, please don't go outside."

"Alrahman tried to assure him that nothing would happen, my son told him not to go out, that he was dying.

Then she felt a severe pain in her head. Shrapnel from an explosion pierced the tent in which they were staying.

Navara started screaming. At first she could not see anything. After a few minutes, her sight returned but then she saw Abed-Alrahman in his death throes.

She remembers his last breaths.

"When my children first saw him, they screamed, 'Oh father, oh father, don't leave us, don't leave us.' "

Daughter Malak, aged 13, was hit in the eye by a piece of shrapnel.

Four more children received minor injuries. They also endured the trauma of what they heard and saw – the explosions and their father being taken to the hospital.

Later that night, in a hospital full of other victims, Navara was confirmed dead.

Weeping, she asks, "What was his sin?" What was the sin of his children? What is my sin? I became a widow at the age of 27.

Malak al-Najjar, aged 13, lost an eye on the same night of the Israeli military raid
Malak al-Najjar, aged 13, lost an eye on the same night of the Israeli military raid

Malak says she was taken to three different hospitals to try to get treatment, but lost her eye.

"I was not treated immediately. After three days, I was operated on. I had an eye injury and a gunshot wound to my waist.

According to the Health Ministry, run under the leadership of the Hamas government in Gaza, at least 74 people were killed during the raid in the early hours of February 12.

It is not possible to say exactly how many of the dead were civilians and how many were fighters. But eyewitnesses and medical sources suggest that many of the dead were civilians.

The Gaza-based independent Palestinian Center for Human Rights, using data obtained from hospital lists, said 27 children and 22 women were among the dead.

Source: Fergal Keane BBC News, Jerusalem

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