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Opinion: Remembering Lives Lost In The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Palestinians walk past a destroyed tower after 11 days of deadly fighting that pounded Gaza and forced countless Israelis to seek shelter from rockets.
Palestinians walk past a destroyed tower after 11 days of deadly fighting that pounded Gaza and forced countless Israelis to seek shelter from rockets.

Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf worked into the small hours last Sunday at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he was chief of internal medicine, trained medical students and supervised a ward for COVID-19 patients.

A former colleague told the BBC, "I would say he was the most kind-hearted and compassionate person I have ever seen in my life."

Dr. al-Ouf had been home for about an hour when there was an airstrike on his street. The Israeli military says the target was above an "underground military structure" occupied by Hamas. But when the underground structure fell in, so did the foundations of houses and shops, "causing unintended casualties," in the words of a statement.

Ayman Abu al-Ouf was buried beneath the rubble and died. So did his mother, father, his wife, Reem, and their 17-year-old son, Tawfik, and 12-year-old daughter, Tala.

Fourteen-year-old Ibrahim al-Masry was playing in his front yard in northern Gaza when an airstrike hit. He and his brother were killed along with several other relatives. A surviving brother told AFP, "We were laughing and having fun, when suddenly they began to bomb us, everything around us caught fire."

Ido Avigal was also killed this week when shrapnel from a rocket fired by Hamas burst through the window where his family had taken cover in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. The Times of Israel says his mother and 7-year-old sister were injured. Ido Avigal was 5 years old.

Khalil Awwad and his 16-year-old daughter, Nadeen Awwad, a Palestinian family living in Lod, Israel, died when a rocket fired by Hamas landed close to their car. Nadeen Awwad was interested in biochemistry and "a very, very special girl," her principal told Kan Broadcasting. "She had dreams of changing the world."

People in Gaza City have just begun to dig out of wreckage and rubble. They will discover more people, neighbors and friends, who have been lost.

A cease-fire has now taken hold, after 11 days of rockets, bombs and street violence. Both Hamas and the Israeli government have claimed a kind of victory.

There will be much analysis and discussion about what, if anything, was accomplished at the cost of so many lives. More than 250 people were killed in Gaza, including over 60 children. Twelve people were killed in Israel; 20 in unrest that broke out in the West Bank. Whatever the perceived gains on each side, those were real human lives lost — mothers, fathers, friends and children.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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