Watch CBS News

Gaza baby girl saved from dying mother's womb after Israeli airstrike dies just days later

Israel nears possible Rafah ground assault
Israel prepares for possible ground assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah 02:23

A baby girl saved from the womb after her mother was fatally wounded by an Israeli airstrike on Gaza has died in one of the war-torn Palestinian territory's beleaguered hospitals less than a week after her mother, CBS News has learned. Sabreen Erooh died late Thursday, five days after doctors carried out an emergency cesarean section on her mother, Sabreen al-Sakani, who died as doctors frantically hand-pumped oxygen into her daughter's under-developed lungs.

Al-Sakani was only six months pregnant when she was killed. Her husband Shoukri and their other daughter, three-year-old Malak, were also killed in the first of two Israeli strikes that hit houses in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday. At least 22 people were killed in the strikes, mostly children, according to The Associated Press.

Images of Sabreen Erooh's tiny, pink body, limp and barely alive, being rushed through a hospital swaddled in a blanket, intensified international condemnation of Israel's tactics in Gaza, which the enclave's Hamas-run Ministry of Health says have killed more than 34,000 people, most of them women and children.

A Palestinian doctor tends to a baby born prematurely after his mother was injured during Israeli bombardment, at the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024. MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

Baby Sabreen's uncle, Rami al-Sheikh, who had offered to care for the little girl, told the AP on Friday that she had died Thursday after five days in an incubator.

"We were attached to this baby in a crazy way," he told the AP near his niece's grave in a Rafah cemetery. 

"God had taken something from us, but given us something in return" the premature girl's survival, he said, "but [now] he has taken them all. My brother's family is completely wiped out. It's been deleted from the civil registry. There is no trace of him left behind."

"This is beyond warfare," United Nations Human Rights chief Volker Turk said Tuesday. "Every 10 minutes a child is killed or wounded [in Gaza]... They are protected under the laws of war, and yet they are ones who are disproportionately paying the ultimate price in this war."

What it's like to be an aid worker in Gaza 07:20

Without a name at the time, the tiny girl initially had a label put on her tiny arm that read: "The baby of the martyr Sabreen al Sakani." She was named Sabreen Erooh by her aunt, which means "soul of Sabreen," after her mother. She weighed just 3.1 pounds when she was born, according to the BBC.

"These children were sleeping. What did they do? What was their fault?" a relative of the family, Umm Kareem, said after the weekend strikes. "Pregnant women at home, sleeping children, the husband's aunt is 80 years old. What did this woman do? Did she fire missiles?"

The Israel Defense Forces said it was targeting Hamas infrastructure and fighters in Rafah with the strikes. The IDF and Israel's political leaders have insisted repeatedly that they take all possible measures to avoid civilian casualties, but they have vowed to complete their stated mission to destroy Hamas in response to the militant group's Oct. 7 terror attack. 

As part of that mission, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau has vowed to order his forces to carry out a ground operation in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians are believed to have sought refuge from the war. The IDF has hit the city with regular airstrikes, targeting Hamas, it says, in advance of that expected operation.

The U.S. has urged Israel to adopt a more targeted approach in its war on Hamas, and along with a number of other Israeli allies and humanitarian organizations, warned against launching a full-scale ground offensive in Rafah.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.