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'We don't deserve this': 10-year-old girl reflects on destruction in Gaza City

Days of continuous Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have left more than 200 people dead in the densely populated enclave, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
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GAZA CITY, Gaza — Nadeen Abed al Lateef has witnessed more violence at 10 years of age than most people have in a lifetime, and as Israel and Hamas exchange the most intense rounds of fire since the 2014 war in Gaza, the child has a message for America: “We’re just dying.”

“The American people, stop giving, stop giving weapons to the occupiers,” she told NBC News amid the rubble in the tiny, impoverished Gaza Strip. “That’s the way that you can help us.”

The girl spoke Sunday — the deadliest day yet in the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.

Image: Nadeen Abed al Lateef
"I want to let out my anger, out of my body because they're killing people," Nadeen Abed al Lateef told NBC News. NBC News

Days of continuous Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have left 212 people, including 61 children, dead in the densely populated enclave that is home to 2 million Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Local officials said more than 90 multistory apartment blocks and residential buildings have been destroyed since last Monday.

Meanwhile, 10 people, including two children, have been killed following rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel.

More than 3,300 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory since the outbreak of the violence, according to Israeli authorities, sending panicked families rushing to shelters throughout the country for over a week.

In Gaza City, meanwhile, Nadeen says she wants to cry every time she sees someone die or looks at someone who is visibly scared. She is struggling to sleep at night.

“Palestine children are dying in Gaza,” Nadeen, the second-youngest of six children, said.

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“We can't do anything,” she added. “We’re just dying.”

More than 40 Palestinians died in air raids Sunday. And a strict land, air and sea blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt ensures that Nadeen and others like her cannot flee.

“I want to let out my anger out of my body because they’re killing people,” she said. “We don’t deserve this.”

In recent days, pressure has been mounting on the United States, Israel’s most important and powerful ally which provides $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel annually, to do more to curb the civilian bloodshed and violence witnessed in the past week.

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday afternoon, but made no direct call for an immediate end to violence as the deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas entered a second week with no signs of a resolution in sight.

The White House said that Biden "expressed his support for a cease-fire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end" while reiterating U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself from rocket attacks from Gaza.

Department of State envoy Hady Amr has been dispatched to the region for de-escalation talks.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the U.S. has been working “intensively” behind the scenes to bring an end to the violence.

Image: Gaza residents inspect their house after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.
Gaza residents inspect their house after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.Said Khatib / AFP - Getty Images

He reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself, but said that as a democracy it has an “extra burden” to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.

“There is no equivalence between a terrorist group indiscriminately firing rockets at civilians and a country defending its people from those attacks,” he said, while visiting Denmark.

“So we call on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to end the rocket attacks immediately.”

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday thanked the U.S. for blocking a United Nations Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continued to pound Gaza as Hamas also pressed on, launching rockets at southern Israeli cities in the early hours.

Nadeen's words conveyed the trauma of the children caught in the bombardments.

"I feel horrible that we are even seeing this," she said.

"I just don't want to listen to the screams of the families and children out there. I just want to sleep," Nadeen said. "I can't handle any more."

Wajjeh Abu Zarefah reported from Gaza City, Saphora Smith reported from London.