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After surviving airstrike Palestinian boy dies seeking aid

WHEN an Israeli airstrike destroyed his family’s home in November, Zein Oroq was pinned under rubble. He was wounded but survived, while 17 members of his extended family died.

But Zein, 13, would later suffer a cruel fate in Gaza, where Palestinians face severe shortages of medicine, food and water in a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The population of the tiny enclave, where Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas have been fighting for more than six months, is at risk of famine.

Last week, during an airdrop of aid, the teenager was struck by one of the packages as he rushed to try to get a can of fava beans, some rice or flour.

“The first time, when the house was hit by a strike, he came out from under the rubble with wounds in his head, hand and leg, God saved him,” said Zein’s grandfather, Ali Oroq.

The grandfather, standing by a large pool of wastewater, recalled how Zein would swim in a pond to get a meal from the air drops, and how he should have been sitting at a desk in school getting an education instead.

But, with mediators failing to secure a truce and Israel and Hamas braced for more war in Gaza, which has been rendered a wasteland by the fighting, his luck eventually ran out.

“While parachutes were falling, an aid box hit his head, also the stampede of people who were heading towards the box did not pay attention to the boy – they were also hungry,” said his father Mahmoud.

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“So, his head was cut and wounded, he got fractures in the pelvis, skull and abdomen and with the flow of people, the pressure increased on him.”

Zein was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds on Sunday in the chaos of a war that began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel responded with a fierce offensive that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health authorities, and turned much of densely populated strip, home to 2.3 million people, into rubble, twisted steel and dust.

“My son is so precious, he was my support, my entire life, my first joy in this world, my biggest child, may he rest in peace,” said Mahmoud.

By DAWOUD ABU ALKAS and SALEH SALEM

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