children in Gaza

Remembering Abdul Rahman Abu Oida, “broken bird”, a beautiful soul,


*Abdul Rahman Abu Oida, at the Wafa Rehabilitation hospital (Eva Bartlett)

 

I am very, very sorry to learn of the death of a stoic young Palestinian man, Abed Abu Oida, a result of years of suffering after being shot in the spine by a zionist mercenary sniper in eastern Jabaliya, March 2008.

I met Abed in a Cairo hospital in mid 2008, where he was wasting away (severely emaciated and had festering bedsores on his backside and heels—which would later be the cause of infection). Steve Sosebee, from the Palestinian Children’s Relief Foundation, was fundamental in getting Abed back to Gaza where–in spite of the severity of life under lockdown-siege, Abed was able to get excellent care at the recently-destroyed al-Wafa Rehabilitation hospital (this hospital came under genocidal zionist attacks in 2009, including w White Phosphorous (see links below), and again during the latest zionist genociding of Gaza this year.

Abed’s story was this:

“Bedridden but painfully conscious, nearly paralyzed with no feeling from the waist down, 16-year-old Abdul Rahman (Abed) is one of the hundreds who were injured by intense Israeli shelling and firing on Gaza between 27 February – 3 March 2008, during an operation dubbed “Hot Winter” by Israel. According to a World Health Organization report, during this period the Israeli army killed at least 116 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians and more than a quarter children, including a six-month-old and a 20-day-old baby, and injured 350. Later counts put the number killed as high as 150, with more than 55 killed in one day alone. Over half of the week’s fatalities and injuries occurred in and around Jabaliya, the northern Gaza region where Abed was born.

At 11:00am on 2 March, Abed stood on the roof of his family’s home, observing as Israeli tanks overran the area. No curfew had been announced, and he was unaware of the presence of soldiers on a neighboring rooftop. The youth was struck from behind by an Israeli sniper’s bullet that dug into his spine, destroying three of his vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed and bleeding on the roof where he lay for 15 minutes before his younger brother found him. The 13-year-old dragged Abed to the stairs and down into the family’s home, dodging further sniper fire as he went. The invasion outside continued, preventing ambulances from coming for Abed. Three hours after his injury, the teen finally reached a hospital in Gaza City where doctors, after seeing his injury, were surprised to see the youth was still alive. Unable to provide adequate emergency care in Gaza, they immediately loaded him into an emergency transfer ambulance bound for the Rafah border crossing to Egypt.”

                                         

*the water tank Abed had gone to check on. [photo December 2008];  *direction of zionist sniper fire. [photo December 2008]

“With the high number of serious injuries, Rafah crossing — closed virtually continuously since June 2007 when Israel imposed a total closure on Gaza — was opened temporarily to allow some of the wounded passage for treatment in Egyptian hospitals. Due to the siege and its detrimental impact on the availability of essential medicines and functioning equipment, Gaza’s own hospitals are not able to meet patients’ needs. Among the more critically injured, Abed was transported to a hospital in al-Arish, roughly 50 kilometers from the Rafah border, and eventually to Cairo’s Nasser Hospital, where he arrived 15.5 hours after being shot.

Four months later, Abed lies gaunt and sickly pale, wondering how this happened to him, and waiting for a series of operations which may help him recover. The operations to strengthen the broken vertebra and plug the bullet-hole wound in Abed’s spinal cord have only a minimal probability of success, allowing him the luxury of sitting a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. Dr. Saleh Abu Sobheh, a surgeon who treated Abed in Cairo’s Palestine Hospital for a period, is more grimly pragmatic: “spinal surgery is a highly risky procedure. Abed will be paralyzed for life, and will be lucky if he does not suffer brain damage from the operation.”

Upon seeing him in the hospital, one might imagine he had always been a slight, sickly boy, not a youth who used to enjoy football and lifted weights every day. Activity and sport were some of the things he didn’t allow Israel to deny him under the siege. Now he can scarcely lift a bottle of water.”

More on Abed’s story:

“Abed’s time in Egypt was hellish, separated from his family who were not granted exit permits by the Egyptian authorities.  Orphaned in Cairo, Abed was moved from hospital to hospital but his situation continually deteriorated, to the point that he was near starvation and incoherent.  He developed large, painful bedsores on his backside and feet from lack of proper hospital care and lack of an overseeing parent to ensure he was being treated properly.  These bedsores remained with him when he eventually was returned, in worse condition than when he’d left, to Gaza.  They were eventually operated on and treated, but he continued to develop other ailments related to his spinal injury.”

    

“I followed Abed’s case while in Egypt and helped arrange to have him returned to his family and cared for in the Al Wafa Rehabilitation hospital, thanks to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.  Abed improved somewhat.

The Israeli war on Gaza occurred, but Abed was thankfully not in Wafa when the Israelis shelled and shot at it numerous times, including with white phosphorous (there were roughly 60 residents in the hospital at the time, most of whom were invalid or comatose and incapable of moving on their own, as well as residents in the complex’s home for the elderly.  The hospital sign was ironically targeted, rendering baseless any doubts that the Israeli army did not realize it was a hospital.  This and the fact that hospital staff were on the phone throughout the evening of attacks, trying to coordinate via the ICRC with the Israelis to stop attacking the hospital.  This is the 4th time the Israeli army has attacked the hospital, its Director said. Seven years ago,  2 nurses were shot dead. )”

   

***

Over the years in Gaza, I was able to visit Abed or otherwise get updates. Sometimes it seemed he had progressed, that there was hope he would not only live but maybe even walk, or at least be able to sit in a wheelchair instead of being bedridden.  That never transpired.

In June, 2012, Tuesday’s Child updated me:

“–Abed is not keeping so well, he is in hospital most days now, his mother is also ill, with a blood disorder. Life is so hard on families in Gaza. We will send him your good wishes. He set up an email last year and you could maybe try that also. His email broke my heart, it translated as broken bird.

–Eva, you were a very good friend to Abed and he will be glad to hear from you. He has great spirit and the most beautiful smile. Unfortunately, in Egypt and with his mum not allowed to visit even, he developed pressure sores to the bone, his infection was treated with IV gentamicin but at an adult dose too much for his weight, this knocked his kidneys and hearing out and why he now has only one kidney and is permanently deaf. We had an audiologist out to help with the deafness. Otherwise he is very weak.”

***

Today, Tuesday’s Child explained:

“…He was treated with a too high dose of IV antibiotic that damaged his hearing and his kidneys. He had one kidney removed and he had irreversible deafness. He struggled with repeated infections and regular hospitalisations, often 3 times a week….He suffered terribly yet he always managed to smile. He was incredibly brave. His greatest joy were his family – his parents, brothers and sisters. In his email address he called himself “broken sparrow”.

He died yesterday. To the sniper who shot Abed, who gave you the right to maim a child? Who gave you the right to cause so much pain and suffering to an innocent boy?”

***

Back in July, before I’d ever been to Gaza I wrote of Abed and another Palestinian man from Gaza in a Cairo hospital:

“Abed and Ziyad are just two of the faceless victims, testimony to the agony of Palestinians in Gaza confronting continued military attacks and a cruel siege which has largely been ignored and minimized by the international community. Abed hopes one day to sit in a wheelchair with his father by his side, and like Ziyad, wants to see an end to Israel’s siege and the attacks which brought them here.”

How naive I was.

Rest peacefully, Broken Bird.

 

prior entries on Abed:

-yet he still smiles

-injured: time doesn’t heal all wounds

-Putting a name to Gaza’s injured

 

A Good Friend’s Project: Midwife to Gaza

    

This is the fundraising campaign of a good friend of mine, Sharyn Lock, who I worked with in Gaza in 2008/9 [her blog from Gaza].

A bit of background: Sharyn was on the first Free Gaza boat to Gaza in August 2008, and was a core component of organizing the boats, five trips of which (six boats) successfully arrived at Gaza’s port (I was on the third).  Along with others in Gaza at the time, we did farmer and fisher accompaniment, trying to be in solidarity with these vulnerable sectors who are bullied (read: killed, maimed, abducted) on a daily basis by the world’s most immoral army, and to document these crimes.  Similarly, during the 2008/9 Gaza massacre, we accompanied medics in their ambulances, documenting the worst of the war crimes. Sharyn was in the Quds hospital when it was bombed repeatedly [see her blog entry on that], including with white phosphorous.  And was among the first rescuers to reach the Samouni district in al-Zeitoun, where horrific crimes and massacres were committed against the extended family.

But beyond some of those key moments, Sharyn interacted with Palestinians in Gaza respectfully, whole-heartedly, with dedication and professionalism, and continued her activism after leaving Gaza.

Since then, she’s thrown herself into studying and practising to become a mid-wife, which she just has.

 

Please look at and consider supporting and sharing her fundraising appeal, to get back to Gaza. From Sharyn’s appeal:

I am aiming to raise £3000 after site fees. Rounding up, £5=$9, £10=$17, £20 =$34, £50=$84, £100=$167. I will be blogging here, so you can go click “follow” to be all ready if you like :)
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honouring the dead, advocating for the living

 

"Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah, Tuesday, July 8, 2014." (AP/Eyad Baba)"

“Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.” (AP/Eyad Baba)”

The sheer genocidal power of these bombs being criminally dropped on Palestinian homes and hospitals is horrific. “Strategic strikes” my ass.

The Zionists continue to bomb all over Gaza.  I’m not there, my heart is and I wish I were…but there are some great Palestinian and international journalists, activists and bloggers keeping the info and photos coming out of Gaza.

First, the list of the martyred, as of earlier today. Surely and sadly it will be longer by now. The murdered are 53  now, according to Ma’an News, but at time of publishing the number was 41.

Relatives of Killed Palestinian Hatem Abu Salem, 28, arrive at the al-shifa hospital in Gaza City, following an Israeli air strike, on July 9, 2014. (Photo: AFP – Mahmud Hams)

Al Akhbar reported:

The Gaza health ministry has released the names and ages of 41 Palestinians killed so far in the besieged strip since Israel began its relentless assault early Tuesday. Among those killed, 13 were aged 16 or younger. The youngest victim, 18-month-old Mohammed Malakiyeh, was killed along with his 27-year-old mother. The oldest victim, 80-year-old Naifeh Farjallah, was killed in an air strike on the town of Moghraqa, southwest of Gaza City.

The single deadliest strike killed eight people Tuesday in southern Gaza when Israel bombed the Hamad family home.

Tuesday, July 8:
1. Mohammed Sha’aban, 24, was killed in a bombing of his car in Gaza City.
2. Ahmad Sha’aban, 30, died in the same bombing.
3. Khadir al-Bashiliki, 45, died in the same bombing.
4. Rashad Yaseen, 27, was killed in a bombing of the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
5. Riad Mohammed Kawareh, 50, was killed in a bombing of his family’s home in Khan Younis.
6. Seraj Ayad Abed al-A’al, 8, was wounded in the same bombing and succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday evening.
7. Mohammed Ayman Ashour, 15, died in the same bombing.
8. Bakr Mohammed Joudah, 22, died in the same bombing.
9. Ammar Mohammed Joudah, 26, died in the same bombing.
10. Hussein Yousef Kawareh, 13, died in the same bombing.
11. Mohammed Ibrahim Kawareh, 50, died in the same bombing.
12. Bassim Salim Kawareh, 10, died in the same bombing.
13. Mousa Habib, 16, from Gaza City’s al-Shujaiyah neighborhood, was killed along with his 22-year old cousin while the pair were riding a motorcycle.
14. Mohammed Habib, 22, was killed with Mousa Habib.
15. Sakr Aysh al-Ajouri, 22, was killed in an attack on Jabaliyah, in northern Gaza.
16. Ahmad Na’el Mehdi, 16, from Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, was killed in a bombing that wounded two of his friends.
17. Hafiz Mohammed Hamad, 30, an Islamic Jihad commander, was killed in the bombing of his home in Beit Hanoun, along with five of his family members.
18. Ibrahim Mohammed Hamad, 26, died in the same bombing.
19. Mehdi Mohammed Hamad, 46, died in the same bombing.
20. Fawzia Khalil Hamad, 62, died in the same bombing.
21. Dunia Mehdi Hamad, 16, died in the same bombing.
22. Suha Hamad, 25, died in the same bombing.
23. Suleiman Salman Abu Soaween, 22

Wednesday, July 9:
24. Abdelhadi Jamaat al-Sufi, 24, was killed in a bombing near the Rafah crossing.
25. Naifeh Farjallah, 80, was killed in an airstrike on the town of Moghraqa, southwest of Gaza City.
26. Abdelnasser Abu Kweek, 60, was killed in the bombing of Gaza’s central governorate along with his son.
27. Khaled Abu Kweek, 31, Abdelnasser Abu Kweek’s son, was killed in the same bombing.
28. Amir Areef, 13, died in a bombing in Sha’af.
29. Mohammed Malkiyeh, one and a half years old, died in a bombing along with his mother and a young man.
30. Amniyeh Malkiyeh, 27, Mohammed Malkiyeh’s mother, died in the same bombing.
31. Hatem Abu Salem, 28, died in the same bombing.
32. Mohammed Khaled al-Nimri, 22
33. Sahar Hamdan, 40, died in the bombing of her home in Beit Hanoun.
34. Ibrahim Masri, 14, Sahar Hamdan’s son, was killed in the same bombing.
35. Unknown
36. Sumoud al-Nawasra, a mother, was killed in a bombing along with her two children.
37. Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra, 4, arrived at the hospital “in shreds.”
38. Nidal Khalaf al-Nawasra, a child of unreported age, died along with Mohammed and Sumoud.
39. Salah Awwad al-Nawasra, was killed in the same bombing. His body was found under the rubble of the house.
40. Amal Youssef Abdel Ghafour
41. Ranim Jawde Abdel Ghafour, a young girl

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forced to walk through sewage

Mohammed Salem, Reuters

Mohammed Salem, Reuters

The Palestinians of Gaza continue to suffer silently. Not only:

-12-18 hour power outages (depending on where in the Strip they live)

-critical shortages of medicines (40% of essential drugs): “We’re not talking here about luxury medications — and by luxury I mean medications that will treat conditions that will kill you in five years or ten years. We’re talking about essential medication.

We’re using medications that my colleagues in Canada have only used if they’ve been in practice since the ’60s. So yes, we have a deep and desperate shortage there. The shortages of medications, the shortages of supplies — especially what we would call “consumables.”

I rarely have the sutures that I want available for the patients when I need them. I rarely have the correct-sized chest tubes. Sutures are how you sew people up together, chest tubes are the things that you put into peoples’ chests when they’ve been shot in the chest or when they’re bleeding in the chest or when there’s water, air in the chest for other reasons.

-“88 Kidney dialysis devices will stop working [endangering 500 dialysis patients], 45 rooms equipped for urgent cases will close, the ICU in the main hospital of Gaza will close, and five blood banks and tens of medical labs will also close. In addition, three mass refrigerators for keeping children’s vaccines and 113 nurseries will close, as will refrigerators for sensitive drugs and x-ray centres. In fact, all service departments are under the threat of closure.”[Nov 7, 2013]

-a shortage of cooking gas (the main means of cooking) and fuel (which combined with power outages render hospitals extremely vulnerable, as fuel is necessary for the back-up generators, which themselves are not meant to run for 8, 10, 12 hour stretches… think life support machinery and prenatal wards, and even simple hygienic laundry work).

-soaring unemployment and manufactured poverty

-the Zionist army shooting at Palestinian farmers and fishers

-random Zionist army bombings

-constant drone presence, constant presence of Zionist warplanes, tanks, and warships

-a ban on construction materials, (meaning the 10,000 … and the 70,000 dependent on the construction sector for their livelihoods, as well as 18 UN projects on education, health, water, and electricity now at risk.

-95% of water in Gaza is not drinkable

…Any one of these factors, prolonged, would make life in, say, Canada unbearable.  But all of these factors… and more?

But the latest insult and danger is the overflowing sewage flooding the streets.  Completely and utterly preventable, were Palestinians allowed to maintain their sewage holding pools, expand them, maintain the lines, treat the sewage. Instead, its pumped into the sea at a rate of 90 million litres a day, and in this case is overflowing into the streets of Gaza.  In 2007, Umm Nasr, a village in northern Gaza was flooded by sewage overflow, killing 5 people.

**notice the LOVE so evident between friends and siblings, the laughter and pride, despite despicable circumstances.

see also: Gaza power outages cause environmental crisis

Frustratingly, these are not new circumstances:

Israeli Siege on Gaza Causes Waste Crisis

notes on Palestine’s preventable water and food crises

Gaza out of the spotlight…and out of power, gasoline, and cooking gas for that matter

fish hiya: no life

Israel’s threat to cut Gaza water supply would be “complete catastrophe”

Attack on Water Brings Sanitation Crisis

lucky to have water

Gangnam Gaza Style: on the siege, Palestinian Prisoners, Palestinian Pride

DSC_0171

*photo: Emad Badwan

First published at Inter Press Services [blog version longer than published version] -By Eva Bartlett

“We wanted to do something to bring focus to the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, of which there are around 5,000 in Israeli jails, including hunger strikers, children, women,” says Mohannad Barakat, 30, one of seven Palestinians who made ‘Gangnam Gaza Style.’

Parodying the South Korean video, ‘Gangnam Style,’ which topped charts in mid- 2012, soon after breaking records for most-watched Youtube video, Gaza’s version injects the sordid realities of Palestinians’ lives under Israeli military occupation and the years-long choking siege of the Strip.

“We wanted to tell the outside world about the impossible circumstances under which we live: that our airport has been destroyed, our fishers are prevented from accessing their sea, that half our population is out of work, that we use tunnels instead of border crossings and donkeys because fuel is scarce.”

The Gazan rendition of the Korean dance video highlights some of Gaza’s most urgent problems under siege, including daily power outages, fuel shortages, lack of freedom of movement, and unemployment. Dressed in black, heads wrapped with the traditional black and white Kuffiyehs (scarves), five men and two children dance a fusion of ‘Gangnam style’ and Dabke, the energetic dance found in many Arab countries.

“In our video, as we show how the siege and Israeli occupation impact on our lives, we hold our hands crossed in front of us, symbolizing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” says Barakat. CONTINUE READING

conversations on Palestine re-awaken me to the absurdities of daily life in occupied Palestine

Disturbingly, I’ve become accustomed to and not surprised by, the daily injustices inflicted upon Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine: aadi (“normal”) as many Palestinians say.  In my time in the occupied West Bank in 2007, Israeli army raids and lock-downs (“curfews”), as horrific as they are, became normal, since they happen all of the time.  As do the abductions of Palestinians from their homes, including elderly, youths, children, women, and the everyday people striving to provide for their families, having done nothing wrong or meriting being abducted, arrested, imprisoned (usually without charge, “administrative detention”).

The more I’ve become immersed in the realities of Palestinians, the more unbelievably ‘normal’ and expected they’ve become. It’s when I discuss this abysmal daily injustices with others who’ve just read or heard of them that they again become as outrageous as they are.

Is Gaza being bombed right now or are things okay?

Friends and loved ones ask me this a lot, entirely out of good intentions and hopes.  But, without meaning to be, it’s a loaded question: Gaza is always being attacked and oppressed, things are never okay… if not the whole-out onslaught of Nov 2012, Dec/Jan 2008-2009, and everything before and in between, then the shelling of Palestinian fishers and farmers who on a daily basis face the threat of Israeli assault…. or the random incidents of assassinations of and injury to Palestinian children, civilians of all ages, rubble collectors, bird catchers, and cemetery visitors that occur month after month, year after year. CONTINUE READING

The hardest thing: Palestinian parents speak of their children killed by Israeli bombings

reham2    Nader Abu Mghaseeb1

During the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, 182 Palestinians were killed, according to the World Health Organization’s Dec 2012 report, among whom 47 were children, including 16 under 5 years old. Another 1399 Palestinians were injured, most of them with multiple injuries.

It is only four years after Israel’s last major assault on Gaza, which killed over 1450 including those who died of their injuries, and injured over 5000.  Then there are the random Israeli attacks throughout the years, leaving injured suffering even years later.

And there were the under-reported attacks in the week preceding the Nov 14 attacks: the Nov 8 killing of 13 year old Ahmed Abu Daqqa as he played football, the Nov 10 killing of Mohammed Harara (16) and Ahmed Harara (17) as they played football, the subsequent killings of Ahmed Al- Dirdissawi (18) and Matar Abu al-‘Ata (19) when they rushed to the scene of the Harara killings (source: PCHR).

Every December and January, I remember the victims of the 2008-2009 massacre, particularly some of the harder incidents of burning to death from white phosphorous bombing, or point blank shootings of loved ones. All ages suffered, although we tend to pick up on the children. Somehow their murders, their maimings, their imprisonment strikes us more.

Two cases from the November 2012 attacks struck me and stay with me: the killing of 4 year old Reham as she stood a few metres from the door of her Nusseirat camp home, outside of which an Israeli  bomb exploded…and the murder of Nader, 14, killed by a precision drone missile as he walked to get food for his siblings… just two hours before the ceasefire.

Below are follow-up photos, the families and loved ones of Reham and Nader.  Allah yerhamhum (Allah, God, bless them).

DSC_0454

Mourning area for Reham Nabaheen, killed by an Israeli bombing outside her Nusseirat camp home.

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