A Gazan baby is born an orphan in an urgent C-section after Israeli strike kills mother

A baby girl lies in an incubator. Scrawled on the  tape across her chest: “The martyr Sabreen al Sakani’s baby."
Sabreen Jouda was delivered prematurely after her mother was killed in an Israeli strike along with her husband and daughter. Scrawled on the tape across her chest: “The martyr Sabreen al Sakani’s baby.”
(Mohammad Jahjouh / Associated Press)

Sabreen Jouda came into the world seconds after her mother left it.

Their home was hit by an Israeli airstrike shortly before midnight Saturday. Until that moment, the family was like so many other Palestinians trying to shelter from the war in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah.

Sabreen’s father was killed. Her 4-year-old sister was killed. Her mother was killed.

Emergency responders learned that her mother, Sabreen al Sakani, was 30 weeks pregnant. In a rush at the Kuwaiti hospital where the bodies were taken, medical workers performed an emergency cesarean section.

Little Sabreen was near death herself, fighting to breathe. Her tiny body lay in the recovery position on a small piece of carpet as medical workers gently pumped air into her open mouth. A gloved hand tapped at her chest.


She survived.

On Sunday, in the hours after the airstrike, she whimpered and wriggled inside an incubator at the United Arab Emirates’ nearby field hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

She wore a diaper too big for her, and her identity was scrawled in pen on a piece of tape around her chest: “The martyr Sabreen al Sakani’s baby.”

“We can say there is some progress in her health condition, but the situation is still at risk,” said Dr. Mohammad Salameh, head of the unit. “This child should have been in the mother’s womb at this time, but she was deprived of this right.”

Palestinian health officials say Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children.

April 21, 2024

He described her as a premature orphan girl.

She is not alone.

“Welcome to her. She is the daughter of my dear son. I will take care of her,” said Ahalam al Kurdi, her grandmother. “She is my love, my soul. She is a memory of her father. I will take care of her.” She clutched her chest and rocked with grief.

At least two-thirds of the more than 34,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza since this war began have been children and women, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The other Israeli airstrike in Rafah overnight killed 17 children and two women from an extended family.


On Sunday, the survivors buried the dead. Children in bloodied wraps were placed in body bags and into the dusty ground as families wailed.

Little boys watched and tried to keep their footing at the edge of a grave.

Jahjouh writes for the Associated Press.