Indian carer who looked after 80-year-old Israeli woman among dead in Gaza conflict

Soumya Santosh was talking to her husband on a video call in the evening when the incident took place

Stuti Mishra,Bel Trew
Wednesday 12 May 2021 14:33
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Related Video: Israel intercepts Gaza rocket with Iron Dome defence system

A 30-year-old Indian woman who lived in Israel is among the dead of the current conflict, killed in a rocket attack fired by from Gaza, according to officials.

Soumya Santosh, who hailed from Kerala’s Idukki district was working as a caregiver to an 80-year-old Israeli woman at a residence in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.

She had been in Israel for seven years.

Her death occurred amid escalating hostilities and attacks between Israelis and Palestinians, with Israel carrying out multiple air strikes in Gaza and the militant group Hamas firing rockets at Ashkelon and Tel Aviv.

The elderly woman Santosh worked for was also injured in the attack and is currently undergoing treatment.

At the scene of the attack, the rocket punched a huge hole in the bungalow, and completely devastated the house, destroying the internal walls and ceilings. Inside, the crumpled remains of a wheelchair lay on a pile of rubble that partially covered the bed where the elderly owner of the house would normally sleep.

“The rocket landed between the division of these semi-detached house, there were two people left in side, one very elderly woman and a lady taking care of her,” said Shmulik Friedman, fire chief of the southern district.

“The missile hit the younger lady and she died. Part of the house also collapsed on her,” he said.

Santosh is survived by her son who is living with her husband in Kerala. According to her family, she was talking to her husband on a video call in the evening when the incident took place, and they heard the explosion.

“My brother heard a huge sound during the video call. Suddenly the phone got disconnected,” her husband’s brother told news agency PTI. “Then we immediately contacted fellow Malayalees working there. Thus, we came to know about the incident.”

Israel’s ambassador to India, Ron Malka, on Wednesday spoke to her family to convey his condolences over her death. He added that “the whole country is mourning her loss and we are here for them”. He also expressed grief that her young son, nine, had lost his mother.

“I just spoke to the family of Ms Soumya Santosh, the victim of the Hamas terrorist strike. I expressed my sorrow for their unfortunate loss and extended my condolences on behalf of the state of Israel. The whole country is mourning her loss and we are here for them,” he tweeted.

“My heart goes out to her nine-year-old son, Adon, who has lost his mother at such a young age and will have to grow up without her. This evil attack reminds me of little Moses, who also lost his parents during the 2008 Mumbai attacks. May God give them strength and courage,” he added.

Mr Malka was referring to Moshe Tzvi Holtzberg - a young boy whose parents were killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks when he was only two-and-half-years old.

Israeli airstrikes have now killed 43 people including 13 children in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health authority. Meanwhile, rockets fired from the Strip have killed five people in Israel as hostilities between Hamas and Tel Aviv continue to rage.

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