Despite Rockets, Israeli Hospital Treating Gazan Children

Palestinian families brave sirens, checkpoints for help with heart defects.

Kobi Kalmanovitz

Even as Israeli air strikes are taking the lives of Palestinian children during Operation Protective Edge, Israeli doctors in Holon are laboring to save the lives of Palestinian children born with heart defects.

The Walla news website reports that even on the day that the operation launched on Tuesday, seven Palestinian children arrived at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for treatment. One of the children did not make it into Israel.

"It does not matter what side of the political map you are on," said Dr. Akiva Tamir, head of pediatric cardiology at Wolfson. "The parents of these children want them to live – just like parents [in Israel]."

One of the mothers said that she and her son, Marwan, arrived from Gaza via the Erez Crossing. "When we arrived at the checkpoint, there was suddenly a siren," she said, according to Walla. "They quickly brought us to the bathroom. We hid there until it calmed down, and we continued on our way. Despite it all, I had to arrive. It does not matter what the situation is outside."

Save a Child's Heart states that it has repaired the hearts of over 3,300 children from all over the world. Dr. Amram Cohen, an immigrant from the United States, founded the NGO in 1995. He died in a mountain climbing accident in 2001.

The organization strives to transcend "national boundaries and political differences, building bridges of peace and understanding between Israel and the nations of the world," according to its web site.

As of the week of July 7, Save a Child's Heart was treating 34 children with heart defects, including four from Iraq, five from the Palestinian Authority, three from Syria and 22 from eastern Africa.

Kobi Kalmanovitz