Stories of Survival and Suffering: Inside Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Hospital

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 1 Jul 2024

Reem A. Hamadaqa | Mondoweiss - TRANSCEND Media Service

Injured Palestinian children are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Dair El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in Gaza in Mar 2024.
Photo by Ali Hamad apaimages

Reem Hamadaqa spent 96 days in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza recovering from an Israeli attack that killed the rest of her family. Here are the stories of women and children she met while she was there.

28 Jun 2024 – I arrived at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital on March 2 after surviving an attack that killed 14 members of my family. I was the sole survivor in my family. When I arrived at the hospital I was suffering from pelvic and acetabular fractures that kept me from walking or even standing.

Due to the lack of medical care and staff, I was unable to undergo the surgery I needed. Incapable of walking, I was allowed to stay in the hospital, among the many wounded women and children who were suffering the most.

From my bed in Room 7 on the third floor of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital I was able to witness the suffering of more than 25 wounded women and children. My bed was covered on three sides by a yellow curtain but I could still meet the others in my room, many of whom were severely burned and had undergone several surgeries under impossible medical conditions. I met others who received amputations, and many others who lost children. Others waited helplessly for their medical referrals, and many died while doing so. And those were just the cases I was able to see.

Injured Palestinians are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in Khan Younis on March 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
Injured Palestinians are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in Khan Younis on March 2, 2024.
(Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)

The majority of the wounded I saw while on my rare trips through the hospital were burn victims. I especially remember several of the women and kids that came to Room 7 burnt and screaming their lungs out in pain.

Karima, 50, got injured during Ramadan’s first days. She lost 52 people of her family; including her son, his wife, and her grandchild among the martyrs. Her back and legs were completely burned. Screaming out of pain, she went for surgeries day after day. She could not undergo any operations during her first week in the hospital due to the severity of her injuries. She waited helplessly to be able to travel to receive the proper treatment, and she died 50 days after being injured. Those days echoed the 50 years she lived, but they were solely full of pain.

Injured Palestinians are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in Khan Younis on March 8, 2024. (Photo: Ali Hamad/APA Images)
Injured Palestinians are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in Khan Younis on March 8, 2024.
(Photo: Ali Hamad/APA Images)

On the first evening of Eid, four people came to Room 7 sobbing and screaming. The house beside theirs got bombed and shrapnel hit their gas supply. Nasra, a mother of two, was cooking Eid dinner when the bombing hit. The gas became a fireball within seconds and burned Nasra, 29, her daughter, Qamar, 2, her brother, Yousef, 13, and her nephew, Hasan, 1.

Within a week, little Hasan died. After multiple surgeries, the other three started to heal. Tragically, however, a month after being discharged from the hospital, Yousef’s house was bombed and he was burned again all over his body. He died three days later.

In May, Hala, 22, and her two-year-old son, Esam, were bombed while in their house and they were the sole survivors from under the rubble. Her back and both legs were burned and her son’s face and legs were, too. Both are waiting for the Rafah crossing to open to travel for medical care.

Wesam, 27, had been diagnosed with diabetes. She was living in a tent when a piece of wood cut her foot. The overwhelming number of injuries means that hospitals are not able to give each patient the time and treatment they need to recover. Doctors had no choice but to amputate her foot.

Asma’ tore my heart apart. She is only 16 years old. She looked a very nice, and was a neat and calm girl. While displaced in Al Nuseirat Camp, a piece of shrapnel severely wounded her right hand. Like many others, she waited for her medical referral for treatment. Unlike many others, after about 40 days, she finally received it.

Saja Junaid, 3, receiving treatment in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, on March 26, 2024. Junaid suffered deep burns on her face as a result of an Israeli bombing that targeted her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
Saja Junaid, 3, receiving treatment in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, on March 26, 2024. Junaid suffered deep burns on her face as a result of an Israeli bombing that targeted her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
(Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)

While I was in the hospital the wounded children’s floor grew overcrowded with many kids facing deadly injuries. To make room, many of them were transferred to the third floor which was the women’s floor.

Dana, only 3, got wounded by a quadcopter bullet while living in a tent. It cut through her stomach, kidney, and intestines and stopped near her heart. She underwent a difficult surgery, but still had the bullet stuck in her little body. Her father was martyred during the first days of this war but she kept crying for him. “Dad! I want my dad!”

Lubna had the most tragic story I heard. She is 13 and is the eldest daughter in her family. A missile hit her house in Khan Younis and killed her entire family but her. She lost her parents and all her siblings. After undergoing multiple surgeries, her aunts and uncles found it difficult to tell her the truth. They kept telling her that her parents were alive but severely injured. She left the hospital for her uncle’s house, still without knowing she was the only survivor in her family.

I befriended Mira, 6 years old. She was displaced in Deir El Balah and the building she was in got bombed by a shell. A shrapnel injured her right leg, creating a wide-open wound. Screaming, she got her wound cleaned out without any anesthetic. Even so young, and in so much pain, she would still insist on trying to brighten my mood, whenever she saw me sad.

It was seeing the wounded mothers who were suffering from both pain and loss that was the most devastating. It saddened me even more when they forgot about their own pain and thought only about their wounded or dead children.

Lina, 33, lost her two daughters in the bombardment of her neighbor’s home and her back was broken in the attack. Immediately, she underwent an operation. Incapable of walking or even a little movement, she just kept crying for her two babies.

I don’t think that Nasra once screamed from the pain of her own burns. Each time she did cry, she was crying for her injured two-year-old daughter.

Almost all women in Room 7 were mothers. Samar, 38, lost her youngest son, Sanad, and had her arm shattered. Amal, 36, had her leg crushed, and was confined to a surgical bed, leaving her kids, who visited her many times, to fend for themselves. Sabreen, 29, had gaping injuries in both legs, and a newborn baby. Ameer, her son, was only a month old when she was hurt and he was forced to live his second and third months in hospitals with his mother.

Almost 70% of the wounded need more complex surgeries and medical care than could be provided through the decimated health sector in Gaza and need to travel to receive it. I, for one, was not able to receive the proper medical treatment I needed, and I was also not given permission to travel. And there are many more like me, helplessly waiting her turn to travel. Karima died waiting. All patients are now waiting for an unknown amount of time since the Rafah crossing was closed on May 6.

Women and children in Gaza are suffering the most. My three yellow curtains deprived me of seeing most of these beautiful women and children. But hearing their stories, screams, and prayers was my window to the horrors they lived through.

________________________________________________

Reem A. Hamadaqa is translator and writer in Gaza, Palestine. Reem is raising funds to cover her future medical care, please see here for more information and to donate.

Go to Original – mondoweiss.net


Tags: , , , , , ,

Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of Gaza, illegal occupation of the Palestine nation’s territory, the apartheid wall, its inhuman and degrading treatment of the Palestinian people, and the more than 7,000 Palestinian men, women, elderly and children arbitrarily locked up in Israeli prisons.

DON’T BUY PRODUCTS WHOSE BARCODE STARTS WITH 729, which indicates that it is produced in Israel. DO YOUR PART! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

7 2 9: BOYCOTT FOR JUSTICE!


Share this article:


DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

There are no comments so far.

Join the discussion!

We welcome debate and dissent, but personal — ad hominem — attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated. Nor will we tolerate attempts to deliberately disrupt discussions. We aim to maintain an inviting space to focus on intelligent interactions and debates.

+ 29 = 33

Note: we try to save your comment in your browser when there are technical problems. Still, for long comments we recommend that you copy them somewhere else as a backup before you submit them.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.