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'They had been cooked alive': Family suffers severe burns escaping Hamas militants

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CONTENT WARNING: This story contains intense and graphic depictions of war that may not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

RAMAT GAN, Israel -- When Hamas militants set their home ablaze, Evyatar Hogeg's sister and her husband huddled around their one-year-old baby to protect her from burns.

"They both hugged her," Hogeg told CTV News from the Shiba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, where his sister's family are now all being treated. "That's why you see the burns on their backs, on their hands and where exactly they sheltered the little baby."

The family were attacked in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Azza, a small Israeli community just five kilometres east of the Gaza Strip. The village now lies in charred ruins after the surprise Saturday morning attack by Hamas militants. During a tour, the Associated Press described a grisly scene of rubble, blood and bodies that unfolded house-by-house until the village was retaken by Israeli forces on Monday.

Hogeg, who lives in Tel Aviv, was in contact with his sister and her husband from the time they heard gunfire in the distance, to when they took shelter in their safe room, to when he received a final chilling text message from his brother-in-law: "Pray for us. We love you all. They're inside."

New Israeli homes and buildings are required to have safe rooms that can withstand a rocket attack, but for safety reasons, they do not have locks. Hogeg says his brother-in-law and an intruder wrestled with the door until the militants gave up and set the house on fire.

"Seeing the baby…" Hogeg said, trailing off. "They had been cooked alive in that shelter for pretty long."

Hogeg says his sister is a physician and would have known to stay low in order to breathe. When the heat and smoke became unbearable, they escaped the house covered in burns and took shelter where they could. Hours later, Hogeg received a call when the family was located.

After being airlifted to hospital, all three are now anaesthetized, on ventilators and in stable condition in the hospital's burn unit. Because of her parents' actions, the baby's burns are mostly confined to her hands and legs.

"She's in the best condition out of the three… We hope that they wake her up very soon," Hogeg said. "We are hoping, praying for good news."

With files from CNN and the Associate Press

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