Mother’s cries of pain for baby girl choked to death by tear gas in Gaza

The mother of a Leila al-Ghandour, a Palestinian baby who according to the Palestinian health ministry died of tear gas inhalation during clashes in East Gaza the previous day, holds her at the morgue of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on May 15 (Picture: AFP/Getty)

The mother of a baby girl killed by breathing in tear gas has broken her silence as thousands of people attended funerals across Gaza today for the 58 people killed and almost 3,000 injured in violent clashes.

It was described as the deadliest day in Gaza since the 2014 war on the same day the US embassy opened.

At least 10 of those killed and 1,000 of those injured were children, the charity Save the Children said. Among those killed was eight-month-old baby Leila al-Ghandour. In Gaza City, hundreds marched in the funeral of the little girl, whose body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag. Pictures showed her mother crying and gripping onto her as she said: ‘Let her stay with me, It is too early for her to go.’

Laila al-Ghandour’s mother cries at the baby’s funeral after she died inhaling tear gas during a protest against the US embassy move to Jerusalem (Picture: Reuters) Palestinian death toll in Gaza border protests rises to 58 Play Video Loaded: 0% 0:00Progress: 0% PlayMute Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:47 Fullscreen

Speaking at a Gaza hospital earlier, her grandmother said the child was at one of the tented protest encampments that have been set up a few hundred yards inside the border. ‘We were at the tent camp east of Gaza when the Israelis fired lots of tear gas,’ Heyam Omar said.

‘When we got back home, the baby stopped crying and I thought she was asleep. I took her to the children’s hospital and the doctor told me she was martyred (dead).’ The Islamic militant Hamas group, which rules the territory, had initially said mass border protests would continue on Tuesday.

It was feared more violence would break out as Palestians mark Nakba Day – the Arabic word for catastrophe – the 70th anniversary of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East war over Israel’s 1948 creation.

Other relatives mourn the baby’s death in Gaza City (Picture: Reuters)

Israeli forces reportedly killed 59 Palestinians during clashes and protests against the United States embassy opening in Jerusalem on May 14 (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered a general strike across the Palestinian Territories on Tuesday and three days of national mourning. Monday’s protests flared because of the opening ceremony for the new US Embassy in Jerusalem following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by President Donald Trump, who in December recognised the contested city as the Israeli capital. Palestinians believe East Jerusalem is the capital of a state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

But Israel regards all of Jerusalem, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognised internationally, as its ‘eternal and indivisible capital’. Most countries say the status of Jerusalem – a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians – should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

A Palestinian woman holding her national flag looks at clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on May 14 (Picture: AFP)

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Palestinian protesters run for cover from Israeli tear-gas during clashes on May 14

Pictures showed scenes of jarring contrast between the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem by Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.

Just miles away, Palestinians were killed and injured in gunfire and teargas along the Gaza border, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Of the wounded, 130 people are in a serious or critical condition. The World Health Organization said the number of injured people being brought into hospitals was ‘very overwhelming’ for Gaza’s health system.

WHO official Mahmoud Daher said 1,360 people were wounded by live fire, 400 from shrapnel and 980 from teargas. Daher says the numbers were comparable to wartime situations. ‘It is really massive in terms of numbers,’ he said.

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