Palestinian Bedouin girl, only victim of Iran missile strike, makes first public appearance

Palestinian Bedouin girl, only victim of Iran missile strike, makes first public appearance
A seven-year-old Palestinian Bedouin girl who was injured in Iran's retaliatory missile strikes on Israel has been seen for the first time.
3 min read
04 June, 2024
Palestinians of the Negev face expulsion from their homes [Getty-file photo]

A seven-year-old Palestinian girl, who was the sole major injury of Iran's retaliatory missile strikes targeting Israel on 13-14 April, spoke publicly for the first time this week, amid two months of torment for her heartbroken parents.

An Israeli media crew interviewed Amina Hassouna from her hospital bed this week after she had four surgeries to treat shrapnel wounds caused by the Iranian missile hit that her village in the Negev, where her family home was scheduled for demolition by Israeli authorities.

Wrapped in bandages, Amina drawled out a few confused words to the Kan camera crew crowded around her bed, where she has lay for the past two months, as journalists asked her questions in Arabic such as 'How old are you', and 'Do you know where you are now'.

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Amina was in her bedroom on 14 April, in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Fura, when an Iranian projectile pummeled into her home, one of around 300 missiles aimed at Israeli military sites in retaliation for the killing by Israel of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander in Damascus earlier that month.

While she was in a two-week coma, her Negev home was scheduled for demolition until public uproar forced Israeli authorities to suspend the order, but not before her father torched the family's camel shed to avoid paying a $8,000 fine.

When the building had burned to the ground, with the animals safely outside, Mohammed Hassouna collapsed having endured the twin torments of his home at risk of demolition while his beloved daughter's life hung in the balance.

Israel accuses Bedouins in Negev villages of constructing homes without official planning permission, while the villagers say such authorisation is impossible for Palestinian citizens of Israel to obtain.

Israeli bulldozers have demolished scores of Palestinian homes and other civilian infrastructure in the Negev in recent years with expanding kibbutzim and military bases often lying close.

Unlike nearby Jewish-Israeli habitats, the Bedouin villages often lack bomb shelters meaning that the Hassouna family were helpless when Iranian missiles, aimed at the nearby Nevatim and Ramon military airbases, rained down on their village.

Palestinians in the Negev have been the frequent target of discriminatory policies for years, with only 11,000 Bedouins today living in the desert region, despite its previous population of 92,000 before the creation of Israel in 1948.

Around half of Israel's 300,000 Bedouin population live in towns and villages not recognised by Israel, with homes, schools and even graveyards frequently levelled by the state.