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On video call, wife killed by rocket in Israel

Soumya, 31, had been working as a caregiver for an elderly woman in Ashkelon for the past seven years

PTI Idukki Published 13.05.21, 02:50 AM
Smoke billows from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021.

Smoke billows from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. Getty Images

Santhosh was on a video call with his wife Soumya, a caregiver in Israel, on Tuesday evening when there was a deafening sound and the phone fell from her hand.

Soumya had been telling Santhosh about the war-like situation in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon. “Suddenly, there was this huge sound and the phone fell from her hand. It was still connected and I cried ‘Hello, hello’, but there was no response,” Santhosh recalled at his home in Idukki’s Keerithodu on Wednesday.


“After a minute-and-a-half, I could hear the voices of some people on the other end. The phone was still connected,” Santhosh said. Sensing danger, he immediately alerted his family members, who got in touch with Soumya’s friends, fellow Malayalis in Ashkelon, and came to know of her death.

Soumya, 31, who had been working as a caregiver for an elderly woman in Ashkelon for the past seven years, was killed allegedly in a Palestinian rocket strike. There is no official confirmation of the incident so far.

Santhosh said their nine-year-old son was unable to cope with the loss and still awaits his mother’s phone call. “He is awaiting her call,” Santhosh told reporters in Keerithodu, holding back his tears. He said Soumya had been planning to permanently return to Kerala for a better life.

Israel and Palestine have been locked in their most tense standoff in years with hundreds of rockets and air strikes being launched everyday across the border.

Condoling Soumya’s death, Israel’s envoy to India said her son’s situation reminded him of Moses, the Israeli boy who was orphaned in the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Soumya’s family recalled that she used to often share with them her anguish about massive firings in the Israeli territory by Palestinian militants.

Minister of state for external affairs V. Muraleedharan said the Indian embassy in Israel capital Tel Aviv was trying to bring Soumya’s body to India.

Muraleedharan, who spoke to the Indian ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Kumar Singla, over phone, said the Israeli authorities would hand over the body to India after completing all the formalities.

The minister said he had telephoned Soumya’s family on Tuesday night to convey his condolences.

“Spoke with the family of Ms Soumya Santhosh to convey my deep condolences at her tragic demise during the rocket attacks from Gaza today. Assured all possible assistance. We have condemned these attacks and the violence in Jerusalem, and urged restraint by both sides,” Muraleedharan tweeted.

The Israeli ambassador to India, Ron Malka, said he had contacted Soumya’s family and offered his condolences.

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

Malka added: “My heart goes out to her 9-year-old son… 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 #Mumbaiattacks. May God give them strength and courage.

Senior Kerala Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said he had written to the Indian ambassador to Israel, urging him to take steps to bring home Soumya’s body.

Newly elected MLA and Nationalist Congress Kerala leader Mani C. Kappan condemned the incident. In a Facebook post, Kappan, who represents Pala, said thousands of Malayalis working in Israel were living in fear. He sought the intervention of the central and state governments.

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