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A Gaza mother reunites with her infant twins


The World Health Organization says 28 premature babies have been evacuated to Egypt from Gaza. They had survived for days outside incubators in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza when the hospital was without power and then besieged by Israeli troops. Israel says Hamas uses the hospital for cover. NPR's producer in Gaza, Anas Baba, met the mother of two of those babies as she waited by an ambulance to leave Gaza with her daughters. NPR's Ruth Sherlock reports.

RUTH SHERLOCK, BYLINE: Nour Al Banna's twin daughters, Leen and Bayan, were born prematurely three days before the Israeli offensive on Gaza began. They were transferred without her to Gaza's biggest hospital, Al-Shifa. And Banna tells NPR producer Anas Baba when the airstrikes began, she wasn't able to reach them.

NOUR AL BANNA: (Non-English language spoken).

SHERLOCK: By that time, Israel had Gaza under blockade during the offensive it says is aimed at preventing Hamas from committing more attacks like the one on October 7 and rescue hostages. With fuel and power shortages, the hospital incubators and ventilators stopped working, and the Gaza Ministry of Health says, in the days before the babies could be reached, eight died. Banna says she didn't know if her daughters were still alive.

BANNA: (Non-English language spoken).

SHERLOCK: But then she recognized them in a video sent out by a nurse, and she was able to reunite with them today. She sat in an ambulance beside her baby girls, who were all bundled under blankets and in blue fleece hats, about to cross to Egypt. NPR producer Anas Baba was there.

ANAS BABA, BYLINE: So she told me that this is the first time to see them. I want to hug them. I want to kiss them. I want to, like, truly cuddle them tightly, but I cannot. I cannot even touch them because I do believe this is going to be, like, unhygienic, and maybe that's going to give them any disease.

SHERLOCK: He says the most she could do was put out her finger, when one of the babies raised her hand, and held onto it tightly.

BABA: It was phenomenal, the look on her face. It's just like the mother that finally became a 100% mom with the touch of her child.

SHERLOCK: There were four other premature babies in the ambulance, and Banna said she will help care for them, too. Only a few mothers were with the 28 babies sent to Egypt today, with medics still trying to reach some of the parents or even find out if they're still alive. Ruth Sherlock, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ruth Sherlock is an International Correspondent with National Public Radio. She's based in Beirut and reports on Syria and other countries around the Middle East. She was previously the United States Editor for the Daily Telegraph, covering the 2016 US election. Before moving to the US in the spring of 2015, she was the Telegraph's Middle East correspondent.