Five-year-old Alaa Qadoum was at her grandfather’s home in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday when her father and another relative arrived by motorcycle at a nearby mosque, according to a neighbor who witnessed the scene.
When she saw her father, Abdullah Qadoum, Alaa ran toward him, said the neighbor, Amir Omar. It was at that moment that an Israeli airstrike hit nearby.
Hours later Alaa was wrapped in a white shroud and a Palestinian flag, her face uncovered so her grieving relatives could plant a few final kisses on her forehead before she was laid to rest. A bright pink bow tied most of her hair back.
Alaa was among more than a dozen people killed in two days of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip that began Friday afternoon and continued into Saturday.
Last year, during 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, at least 67 children were killed in Gaza. Two children were killed in Israel during the war.
The strikes have targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas.
It was unclear whether the strike that killed Alaa was intended to hit the men, the mosque or another target. Ashraf Qadoum, the relative who arrived at the mosque with Alaa’s father, and the mosque’s imam were also killed.
Alaa’s father is in critical condition, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. Her brother was also wounded.
Fady Hanona contributed reporting from Gaza City.