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Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation

12:00 May 15 2018 Gaza

Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation Gaza death toll rises to 61, 8-month-old baby girl dies from tear-gas suffocation
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Relatives mourned the death of Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old Palestinian girl who fell ill after inhaling tear gas at the protests in Gaza on Monday. CreditHaitham Imad/European Pressphoto Agency, via Shutterstock Published by The New York Times, May 16, 2018
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GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- MAY 15, 2018 3:28 P.M. (UPDATED: MAY 16, 2018 7:16 P.M.)

The Gaza Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday that since Monday, 61 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces including 8 children, among them, an eight-month-old baby girl who suffocated from severe tear gas inhalation.

The baby girl was identified as Laila Anwar al-Ghandour from Gaza City.

According to the ministry, 2,771 Palestinians have been injured over the past two days, including 225 children and 86 women.

16-year-old Talal Adel Matar, 16, succumbed on Tuesday while at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza to wounds he sustained on Monday.

The Ministry of Health declared that Omar Abu al-Foul, 30, succumbed on Tuesday morning to wounds he sustained on Monday at the eastern borders of Gaza City.
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reference to Ghandour's death by Haaretz, May 16, 2018 2:00 PM

Palestinian President Recalls Washington Envoy as Israel Faces Diplomatic Crisis After Gaza Killings

Israel says thwarts infiltration attempt from Gaza ■ Belgium summons Israeli envoy ■ Nikki Haley: No country would act with more restraint than Israel ■ Israel says 24 of 60 killed Monday were militants

by Almog Ben Zikri, Amir Tibon, Jack Khoury, Nir Hasson, Noa Landau and Yaniv Kubovich for Haaretz

. . . .

4:10 P.M. : Gaza health officials: Infant's death may have been by natural causes, not tear gas

Gaza health officials are casting doubt on initial claims that a 9-month-old baby died from Israeli tear gas fired during mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel.

A medical doctor said Tuesday that the baby, Layla Ghandour, had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of he was not allowed to disclose medical information to the media.

Layla's family claimed Tuesday that the baby had ended up in the area of the protest as a result of a mix-up. The Gaza Health Ministry initially counted her among several dozen Palestinians killed Monday.

A Gaza human rights group, Al Mezan, says it is looking into the circumstances of the infant's death. (Haaretz)
. . . .
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A Child of Gaza Dies. A Symbol Is Born. The Arguing Begins.

By Declan Walsh for The New York Times
May 16, 2018

GAZA — Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old girl with sparkling green eyes, was in the arms of her grandmother when a cloud of tear gas engulfed them at the protest in Gaza on Monday. The child inhaled a draft of acrid gas that set off a rasping cough and watering eyes. Hours later she was dead.

The story shot across the globe, providing an emotive focus for outrage at military tactics that Israel’s critics said were disproportionately violent.

Yet within hours the family’s story was being questioned. Doctors said Layla had suffered from a congenital heart defect that, one suggested, might have caused her death. Then the Israeli military issued claims, unsupported by evidence, that it held information that disproved the family’s account.

The controversy underscored the power of images of children in the most wrenching conflicts of the Middle East. Photographs of Layla’s mother, Mariam, clutching her daughter’s limp body in a Gaza hospital ward have become a potent political symbol, like those of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian infant whose body washed up on a Turkish beach.

But like many such symbols in the Middle East, a small but intense tragedy of people living chaotic lives in turbulent times has become fodder for competing narratives.

The day after Layla died, her father strode from a centuries-old mosque after funeral prayers, his daughter’s body wrapped in a Palestinian flag and held aloft, as a crowd jogging behind him chanted slogans about Israeli blood lust. Officials with Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, circulated a photograph of the smiling child.

For the Ghandour family, it was the second personal devastation in two years. Two years ago, Ms. Ghandour’s first child, Salim, suffocated after a candle toppled over in their bedroom during one of Gaza’s frequent power failures. The flames burned Ms. Ghandour and killed her son, who was just 26 days old.

The pressures of life in Gaza — a poverty-stricken, crowded enclave that has been under an Israeli blockade for the past 11 years — contributed to the swirl of events, and decisions, that swept the infant girl to the perilous front line of Monday’s protest.

Layla was dozing at their home in Gaza City when a call went up: A bus was waiting, outside a nearby mosque, to take residents to the border fence, where the protest was raging. Her 12-year-old uncle, Ammar, bundled her up in his arms and carried her out the door.

The boy assumed that Layla’s mother was already on the bus. In fact, she was in another part of the house, suffering from a toothache. Still, Layla was hardly the only infant at the protest. Entire families had come along, some snacking on ice cream or sandwiches, as the protests raged hundreds of yards away.

In the late afternoon, Layla, in a tent with her aunts, started to wail. Ammar grabbed his niece for a second time and, he said, pushed forward into the protest in search of her grandmother, Heyam Omar, who was standing in a crowd under a pall of black smoke, shouting at Israeli soldiers across the fence.

Soon after Ms. Omar took the child, she said, a tear-gas canister fell nearby. She frantically wiped the child’s face with water and gave her juice to drink. But an hour later, after they reached the family home, Layla appeared to have stopped breathing.

When they arrived at a hospital at 6:34, doctors pronounced the child dead. “Her limbs were cold and blue,” reads a hospital report.

Layla’s mother crumpled onto the hospital bed and wept over her daughter.

“I felt like my heart had been attacked,” she said.

The rules of grief in Gaza, where private pain is often paraded for political causes, kicked in. The next morning the secular Fatah movement erected a funeral tent outside the family’s home, and hung a banner with a photo of the infant beside an image of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

It was not the first public death in the family.

A large poster in the family living room shows Mariam Ghandour’s uncle, Ammar, brandishing a rifle and wearing a black headband. A member of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group affiliated with Fatah, he died battling Israeli soldiers in 2006.
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