Tragedy struck in the pastoral Golan town of Majdal Shams early Tuesday morning when two small children perished in a house fire as they slept unattended.
Selina Zahawa, four, and her younger brother, two-year-old Tawfik succumbed to suffocation and smoke inhalation.
Their mother, Najawa, had left the toddlers alone in the house, closing all of the doors and windows before she departed for an appointment at a local health clinic. At the time, the children's father was working on a construction site in the center of the country.
When Najawa Zahawa, who is pregnant, came back from her blood tests, she found her home full of smoke. Her screams brought the neighbors running, and they pulled the two children, both unconscious, out of the burning house.
Although they were rushed to a nearby clinic, Magen David Adom personnel pronounced both children dead after attempts at resuscitation failed.
It took fire trucks just under 30 minutes to climb the twisting mountain roads to the town, which is the highest community located on the Israeli side of Mount Hermon. By the time they arrived, all they could do was extinguish the flames that had already gutted the family's house.
The initial investigation carried by fire investigators and police detectives from the Golan Station indicated that an electrical short started the blaze, and that the house filled with smoke so quickly that the children may have suffocated in their sleep.
The tragedy was strikingly reminiscent of a fire earlier this summer that claimed the lives of three young siblings in Safed. In that case, the father left the house to pray, locking his wife and children inside. He too returned to discover his home ablaze; three out of four of his children had died in the flames. Only his wife and their youngest child survived after his wife, trapped in the burning house, placed the baby outside on the windowsill to allow it to breathe fresh air.
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