Slain Israeli soldier abducted baby girl in Gaza siege, friend says
Palestinian officials and human rights bodies have expressed alarm about a baby girl who was reportedly taken by an Israeli soldier from her home in Gaza during a siege, according to a story aired on Israel’s Army Radio station.
The army captain allegedly abducted the baby to Israel when he heard her crying after presuming that her family members were killed during a raid in a house in northern Gaza.
The alarming story has come to light after it was shared by Shahar Mendelson – a friend of the Israeli captain Haret Itach –when he was interviewed on Army Radio, known as Galatz, on 31 December.
Itach wanted to take the baby to a hospital in Israel, Mendelson said, praising his friend who was killed while fighting in Israel's war on Gaza.
The Israeli army announced that Itach, who was from the Givati Brigade, died from wounds sustained during a battle in Gaza on December 22.
The New Arab’s sister Arabic language Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that human rights bodies are trying to confirm the fate of the baby girl.
However, Palestinian officials, human rights bodies, and Islamic clerics have expressed grave concern over the kidnapping of the baby, with the girl’s status or whereabouts unknown. The Galatz interview segment also has been taken offline.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the act a ‘heinous crime’ in a statement released on Tuesday.
“The kidnapping of the infant girl from the Gaza Strip is evidence that the occupation army is committing the most heinous crimes against civilians without oversight or accountability.
“The Ministry calls on the occupation authorities to immediately hand over the infant to the Palestinian National Authority,” the statement read.
🚨An Israeli officer kidnapped a BABY girl from Gaza & brought her to Israel (parents likely killed) per a friend of his— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) January 1, 2024
Capt. Harel Itach was killed & the identity & whereabouts of the kidnapped baby are unknown
Israel’s Army Radio deleted the tweet that mentioned the incident pic.twitter.com/m5FKcL84ZJ
Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that it is looking “very seriously at what was revealed by the Israeli media about the kidnapping of an Israeli officer a Palestinian baby girl from the Strip after killing her family."
The International Union for Muslim Scholars, an organisation of Muslim Islamic theologians, also joined calls demanding an explanation as to the fate of the infant.
"We call on governments and leaders in the Arab and Islamic world to take back this newborn," Secretary-General Ali al-Qaradaghi wrote on X.
In recent days, testimonies have been emerging of young children and babies being separated from their families by Israeli soldiers and disappearing, amid reports of horrifying violations by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in Gaza since the war began in October.
Palestinian news agency Quds News Network shared a story on Sunday of Rushi Al Zaza from Zeitoun in Gaza City who was detained and loaded onto a truck alongside his wife and two sons, aged 4 years old and 6 months.
Rushdi was released after 25 days, but said he does not know where his wife and children are.
Over 3,000 Gazans, including children and women, are believed to have been taken from homes and shelters by Israeli forces in recent weeks. Human rights organisations are urging the international community to call for their immediate release.