Daughter of prominent Palestinian poet killed in Israeli airstrike in Gaza

Shaima Refaat Alareer, the daughter of a prominent Palestinian poet, was killed alongside her family in an Israeli airstrike on a house west of Gaza City on Friday, according to multiple sources, four months after her father died in a similar attack.

Alareer’s husband and their two-month-old son also died in the strike, according to eyewitnesses and family friends.

Eyewitnesses in Al-Rimal neighborhood told CNN that three Israeli missiles struck a home where the family were sheltering.

When asked for comment about the strike, the Israel Defense Forces told CNN it follows international law and tries to “mitigate civilian harm,” but was unable to provide further comment without exact coordinates and the time of the strike.

Shaima was the daughter of Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer, who was killed along with several other family members when an Israeli airstrike hit their home in the Shujayya neighborhood in December.

Alareer spoke to CNN in October, when he was deliberating over whether to stay at his home in Gaza City or flee further south with his wife and six children. At the time, the 44-year-old writer and academic said they had no choice but to remain in the north, as they “have nowhere else to go.”

Residents of Al-Rimal neighborhood said Shaima and her family had been displaced from their home in Shujayya nearly four months ago.

Video shot for CNN shows residents running towards the house after the strike and gathering around the bodies of those killed. Footage shows the house completely demolished.

Residents told CNN the family’s remains were taken to Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.

Mosab Abu Toha, a Palestinian poet from Gaza and friend of Refaat who is now displaced in Cairo, told CNN that Refaat’s brother had informed him of the “devastating news of the killing of Refaat’s daughter, husband and newborn child” on Friday.

Shaima had posted news of her motherhood in a recent message on her private Facebook account, according to Abu Toha. He shared a screenshot of her message to her deceased father.

“I have a beautiful news for you, I wish I could convey it to you while you are in front of me, I present to you your first grandchild. Do you know, my father, that you have become a grandfather?” Shaima wrote.

“This is your grandson Abd al-Rahman whom I have long imagined you carrying, but I never imagined that I would lose you early even before you see him.”

Strike on refugee camp

Overnight Friday into Saturday, at least 15 people were killed after an Israeli strike targeted Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, with at least two children still missing under the rubble, according to the Palestinian Civil Defense in Gaza.

Video shot for CNN shows a residential block of buildings destroyed, with mounds of rubble piled up around the area. Residents are seen climbing over the debris picking up carpets and salvaging whatever is left of their belongings.

Women and children are seen standing inside the remains of what looked like their homes, watching civil defense workers using handheld machinery to dig in the rubble. Young men appear to be helping rescue workers by wrapping bodies in blankets and moving them out of the area.

Hafez Abu Shallouf, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Civil Defense, told CNN from the site of the strike that an Israeli bomb was dropped on the refugee camp overnight and caused “mass destruction.”

“We rushed here and saw the martyrs, the wounded and the injured. They’re all civilians. Our capabilities are limited … we will help in whatever way we can,” he said.

An aerial view of destruction after an Israeli attack on Nuseirat refugee camp in Deir Al Balah, Gaza on April 27. - Ashraf Amra/Anadolu/Getty Images
An aerial view of destruction after an Israeli attack on Nuseirat refugee camp in Deir Al Balah, Gaza on April 27. - Ashraf Amra/Anadolu/Getty Images

Shallouf pleaded for the international community to supply heavy duty equipment. “We are working with our hands … we use a few tools here and there, but the destruction is too vast, it’s very hard,” he added.

A resident of the camp, Salah Al-Saiqaly, told CNN he was sleeping at home with his children when he felt a huge explosion around midnight, causing the walls around him to collapse on top of him.

“What have these kids done? What have the people who were safely living in their homes done? Why the injustice? Why the oppression? Do they think we don’t care about our kids and our wives? Our blood is not cheap,” he said.

Al-Saiqaly said there was no warning of the strike and criticized the Israeli military for striking an entire residential block rather than targeting its attacks.

Another resident, Mahmoud Al-Jid, told CNN he was shocked to learn that his uncle had been killed after his house was unexpectedly struck in the middle of the night.

“It felt like an earthquake shook the camp. There were around 15 homes in this block, and now they are in bits and pieces,” he said.

CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on the target of any airstrikes that occurred in the Nuseirat area overnight Friday into Saturday and whether warnings were provided to civilians.

Journalist Mohammad Al Sawalhi contributed reporting from central Gaza, as did Khader Al-Za’anoun of Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

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