The innocent laughter of six-month-old baby Mohammed al-Bor"i stopped forever on Wednesday night when shrapnel from an Israeli missile and rubble struck the infant in the head, minutes after he enjoyed his last meal.
"The baby sucked milk, he was playing with his mother; I was reading a book when a rocket hit the Ministry of Interior," said Nasser al-Bor"i, the baby"s father.
With the first missile, the electricity was cut and darkness filled the ill-fated house. Stones and pieces of the asbestos ceiling fell onto the head of the laughing child. The explosions continued as two other missiles hit the building.
"I looked for my baby in the darkness between the rubble; I did not know where he was. When he cried once I followed the direction of his voice," Nasser al-Bor"i said. "My hands touched my baby who was breathing hard; I felt warm liquid on my two hands and realized that he was wounded."
Al-Bor"i carried his son to the nearby Shifa Hospital as the blood streamed from his tiny head. In the hospital, al-Bor"i became hysterical when he realized that his only child had been killed.
Tears poured from al-Bor"i"s eyes when he saw Mohammed"s shoes. "After five years of treatment for sterility, [my wife and] I had a baby. I can"t imagine that I lost him in a second."
Toys, a plastic bike, a crib and clothes were covered by the heap of rubble inside Mohammed"s bedroom. Cutout magazine pictures of laughing babies decorated the walls, a sad reminder of the joy lost in the strike.
Mohammed"s mother sufered shock and fell unconscious when she realized that the child had died. She laid on a hospital bed while her baby was in the morgue. On Thursday morning she cried when she returned home from the hospital to see Mohammed"s empty crib.
Mohammed al-Bor"i was not the only child to be killed in the series of Israeli air strikes across the Gaza strip on Wednesday. In the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalia, three other children, Anas al-Manama, 10, Bilal Hijazi, 11, and Mohammed Hamada, 11, were also killed in an Israeli air strike, Palestinian medical sources reported.
At least 19 Palestinian civilians and militants were killed and dozens wounded by the continuing Israeli air strikes on Gaza in the last two days.
Sami Abu Salem lives in Jabalia Refugee Camp and works as an English news and features writer at the Palestine News Agency (WAFA). He has also worked at the International Press Center of the Palestinian Authority State Information Service, and works as a freelance writer for local newspapers, focusing on literature and arts. This article was originally published by Ramattan News Agency and is republished with the author"s permission.