LONDON - “I’m so scared, please come,” were some of the last words six-year-old Hind Rajab said in a telephone call to rescuers after her family’s car came under fire in Gaza City.
Trapped in the vehicle and surrounded by her dead relatives, for three hours she pleaded with the Red Crescent to save her.
But the aid agency lost contact with the ambulance dispatched to her aid on 29 January and its crew and Hind remained missing.
Now Hind’s family has said that she was found dead inside the car in the Tel al-Hawa area of Gaza City on Saturday morning.
“Hind and everyone else in the car is martyred,” her grandfather, Baha Hamada, told Agence France-Presse. “[Family members] were able to reach the area because Israeli forces withdrew early at dawn today.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) added that it had located its bombed-out ambulance just metres away, and that its two paramedics, Yusuf Al-Zeino and Ahmed Al-Madhoun, had also been killed.
Nebal Farsakh, PRCS spokesperson, said: “We have been in constant panic and fear over the last 12 days. We were unable to send anyone else to the area so we were uncertain regarding their fate. We wondered if they were dead or alive.
“Today, Hind’s family arrived at the location after the Israeli military withdrew from the area and they found her inside the car with her dead family beside her.”
Gaza City has been devastated by fighting between Israel and Hamas since the war broke out four months ago and Hind’s family had been hoping to seek shelter elsewhere.
The tragedy unfolded on 29 January, when Hind and her uncle, aunt, and cousins attempted to flee approaching Israeli forces and their car came under fire. Hind’s mother and older siblings had set off on foot.
The PRCS initially spoke to Hind’s 15-year-old cousin, Layan Hamadeh, who told them that her parents and siblings had been killed, adding: “They are shooting at us. The tank is next to me.” But the call was cut off by what sounded like gunfire.
The PRCS released an audio recording of the call and some of Hind’s subsequent three-hour phone conversation with dispatchers in which she pleaded for help, saying: “Come take me. You will come and take me?”
The dispatcher, Rana al-Faqeh, said Hind told her she was afraid of the dark and asked for someone to come and rescue her.
Farsakh said the Red Crescent felt “helpless” as they waited for three hours for their ambulance to be given permission to access the location.
She said: “We contacted the ministry of health and they coordinated our safe access with the Israeli authorities. We were given the green light to move the ambulance.”
But she said the ambulance came under fire soon after it arrived at the location. “First [the paramedics] said the Israeli forces are putting laser lights on them … And then we heard a gunfire sound before we lost the connection. It was like a gunfire or explosion, we were not sure of what happened.”
Related: Two-state solution: Biden’s fresh push to solve the Israel-Gaza conflict
The PRCS had been appealing for information about the paramedics and Hind for days, posting photos of the trio on their social media accounts. On Saturday, it posted photographs of the bombed-out ambulance it said its two paramedics had been travelling in.
Farsakh said the ambulance was found metres away from Hind’s family’s car. “We have very clear red cross emblems on top of all of our ambulances,” she said. “This is horrible because when we have waited so many hours, leaving Hind appealing to us, crying, saying please come pick me up, and then, unfortunately, although we have waited all of these hours to guarantee our safe access, it wasn’t a safe access.”
The PRCS accused Israel of deliberately targeting the ambulance. “The occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent crew despite prior coordination to allow the ambulance to arrive at the site to rescue Hind,” it said in a statement.
The Guardian has contacted the Israel Defense Forces for comment.