Gazan Patients Hospitalized in East Jerusalem, Looking for Hope and Answers

A fraction of Gaza’s wounded are now away from the conflict zone, but don’t know what they’ll return to or why Israel bombed them.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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A 4-year-old Palestinian girl, injured in the Gaza Strip, after she was transferred from Gaza to the Saint Joseph Hospital, East Jerusalem, July 26, 2014.
A 4-year-old Palestinian girl, injured in the Gaza Strip, after she was transferred from Gaza to the Saint Joseph Hospital, East Jerusalem, July 26, 2014.Credit: AFP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

More than 45 of Gaza’s wounded and injured, including some who are severely wounded, are being treated in two East Jerusalem hospitals. The patients’ transfer to the Makassed and St. Joseph hospitals was funded and coordinated by the Palestinian Authority. Last week, one of the patients, a 6-year-old boy, died in St. Joseph’s.

As with Israeli hospitals, these medical centers have a constant flow of teenagers and adults with gift packages, flags, toys, and even cash in order to cheer up the wounded.

Among the wounded is Saja Abu Mansour, a 14-year-old girl who suffered a severe brain injury after a missile hit her Dir al-Balah home; Hassan al-Hala, 35, from Shujaiyeh, who lost his two children, wife and four other relatives; Majdia Aziz, 45, from Beit Lahia, who lost her 8-year-old daughter and suffered severe leg injuries; and Khamis Abu Hasira, who lost his right leg. Their words shed light on the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza.

“At the start of the war, I left my home in order to be with the family in Shujaiyeh,” says Hala – a junior manager at the Bank of Palestine – in fluent English. “When the bombs began to fall, we moved to my sister’s house in a nine-story building in the Rimel neighborhood, in the [Gaza] city center. We thought it would be safe there, because everyone there is a civilian.”

“On July 20, we heard a tremendous explosion and I found myself on the floor with my leg broken and bleeding,” recalls Hala. “I couldn’t move. They took me from there. I asked what had happened to my family and nobody knew. They operated on me, and only when I woke up did they tell me that seven members of my family had died: my wife and my two children [aged 6 and 4]; my mother, my sister, her husband and their 7-year-old son. I don’t know why they fired on the house. Had we known, we wouldn’t have been there. They [the Israelis] are the terrorists, they have to explain.”

Aziz fled from her home with her family following Israel Defense Forces instructions, but one day she was wounded, apparently by a missile, while on the way to the market. “My legs were injured. Only two days later did they tell me that my daughter, Deena, had died,” says Aziz. “What did she do? She was 8 years old.”

Abu Hasira, 33, works as a technician for the cellular communications company Jawwal. During most of the fighting he was busy maintaining Gaza’s cellular network. On July 16, only 30 minutes after the killing of four boys on a Gaza beach, a missile hit Abu Hasira and his two friends, who were standing in the street. His two friends were killed and Abu Hasira sustained a serious leg injury.

During the first operation, the doctors amputated his foot. During the second operation they were forced to amputate the rest of the leg to above the knee. Afterward, Abu Hasira had surgery to take care of internal bleeding in his stomach. “After the third operation, the doctor said that this was the last operation – either he would die or he would live,” says his cousin, who shares the same name. “Now he doesn’t know what will become of his life, without a leg. How will he take care of his children?”

In the next room lies Abu Mansour. Three weeks ago, at 6:30 A.M., a missile hit the teenager’s room while she was sleeping. A large piece of shrapnel penetrated her head and since then she has been in a deep coma. The medical staff says that only a miracle can awaken her. “I don’t know why they fired, it’s a house where six girls live, there aren’t any men there at all,” says her uncle, Ramadan Abu Tarek. “I want peace and I want freedom. Stop the killing. People are dying like animals in Gaza.”

Hospital policy allows every injured person to be accompanied by only one relative. Conversations with relatives of the wounded reveal that they are afraid to leave the hospital area, and that most haven’t left it for over three weeks, due to the policy of Israel’s Civil Administration, which issues the companions Israeli residence permits that are valid for only one day. Consequently, the relatives sleep on mattresses in the hospital corridors. In order to eat, they rely on the goodwill of the many visitors.

“In Gaza, there’s no water and no electricity, and there’s fear all the time,” says one of the accompanying relatives, Umm Ibrahim, who asks Haaretz not to reveal her full name. “I want to tell the Israelis that there are human beings in Gaza, and they want to live. The Israelis think that we want only war and to die.”

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