Young Gaza boy wounded and loses mother in Israeli airstrike

By Mohammed Salem

GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian boy Mohammed Qamar lies wounded in a Gaza hospital after an Israeli airstrike that killed his mother and two other relatives, and injured his five siblings.

The 12-year-old, who suffered wounds to his face, eyes and feet in Monday's attack, cries out for his mother in a scene that is all too familiar after nine months of war.

"I was very sad about it, and I felt angry, I started to cry 'How could you go and leave us, mama? Who did you leave us for?'," he said at the Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. "Mama, can you hear me? Mama, answer me."

Recalling how he used to help his mother about the house, he said: "I loved her a lot and would help her by sweeping and washing the dishes, so she could rest."

"I would tidy up the living room and the rooms, I would sweep, and do the dishes for her," he said.

A woman sat beside his hospital bed, cradling his baby brother. His father, Ahmed Qamar, and another brother also lay in hospital beds following the airstrike, which shattered windows and filled the living room with dust.

"I lost the soul of the house," said the father, Ahmed Qamar.

"I have children who are one month old, three years old, five years old, and 10 years old," he said. "They need a mother, and I cannot do it on my own."

The family's plight has become common in the Gaza Strip since the Israeli military began its offensive in response to the deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israeli communities led by the Gaza-based Islamist militant group Hamas.

About 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 attack, and around 250 were taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed nearly 38,000 people, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has left much of the heavily built-up coastal enclave in ruins.

Israel, which is trying to eliminate Hamas, says it goes out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. It did not comment on the incident in which the Qasam family home was hit.

The Gaza health ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, but officials say most of the dead are civilians. Israel says at least a third of the Palestinian dead are fighters.

(This story has been refiled to correct the day of the attack to Monday, not Sunday, in paragraph 2)

(Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by Timothy Heritage)