8-month-old Leila is 13 years younger than any of Israeli regime’s other victims
The father of 8-month-old Palestinian infant Laila Al Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem at the Israel-Gaza border, carries her body during her funeral in Gaza City.
Gaza: In her final embrace, Mariam Al Ghandour hugs the tiny body of her daughter Leila tight, tears rolling down her face.
“The Israelis killed her,” she sobbed.
The health ministry in Gaza say baby Leila, only eight months old, died after inhaling tear gas along the border with Israel on Monday as major protests escalated into the bloodiest day in years, with at least 61 Palestinians killed.
Leila is an outlier – 13 years younger than any of the other victims and one of only two females.
The vast majority have been killed by live ammunition fired by Israeli snipers but Leila was caught up in a cloud of tear gas, only temporarily painful for adults but potentially more dangerous for infants.
Mariam, herself only 17, explained that she had a dentist appointment “so I left Leila with my brothers at home”.
“My little brother took her and went to the border,” she said.
At the back of the room, 11-year-old Ammar sobs uncontrollably as he looks at the corpse.
He says he mistakenly thought his sister was at the border with his mother and other family members.
“So I took her with me on the bus.” He added: “I feel I am the reason (for her death).”
Close to the border he eventually found his mother Heyam and handed Leila over to her. They stayed only a few minutes, Heyam insisted, before tear gas rained down on them.
“I could barely breathe,” she said. “We got away from the gas and gave Leila to my sister and went looking for two other children so we could leave.
“She drank juice but was crying a lot. Then she went silent. I thought she was sleeping.”
It was only when they got off the bus that they noticed her skin had turned blue.
“I rushed to the hospital. They told me she had been dead more than an hour,” Heyam said.