The legs and bare feet of a dead toddler protruded from beneath layers of concrete from the ruins of a block hit by an Israeli airstrike, and three men tried to free the top half of the body by pulling out pieces of rubble with their bare hands .
At one point, one of the men, after removing a large piece, picked up the child's legs, which were dressed in black pants, and carefully tried to retrieve the body, but it was still stuck and the legs fell to the ground.
The scene took place early on Monday in Rafah, after a strike late the night before destroyed a residential block and left a gaping crater as deep as a multi-storey building.
The dead toddler was eventually released and wrapped in a black cloth. A man clutched the body to his chest, despair etched on his face, and carried it away from the ruins, surrounded by other men, some of whom placed their hands on his shoulders.
“There is no god but Allah, and all martyrs are loved by Allah,” the men sang as they walked.
Another small body was also carried away, wrapped in a colorful blanket.
Local residents told Reuters that more than a dozen people, including several children, were killed in the strike. Several of the dead were still buried under the rubble.
Rafah is located on the southern side of the Gaza Strip, close to the border with Egypt. Israel has urged civilians to move south from other parts of the strip to avoid becoming involved in heavy fighting, but survivors in Rafah said nowhere was safe.
The war began on October 7 when militants from Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, rampaged through southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, including babies and toddlers, and capturing 240 hostages of all ages, according to Israeli figures.
Israel vowed to destroy Hamas in response and has responded with a military assault on the densely populated Palestinian enclave, killing more than 15,000 people, most of them women and children, according to Gaza health officials.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)