injured: time doesn’t heal all wounds

The terms “injured” and “wounded” deserve more attention.

Over 4,500 injured in 2008-2009 the Israeli war on Gaza, of which “Some 2,315 (43 percent) were wounded by shrapnel, and spinal cord injuries are common,” reports IRIN news, noting that ” thousands of war wounded in Gaza, including 785 women and 1,815 children, will require long-term care, according to health ministry official Samir Radi.”

350 injured in the 27 February – 3 March 2008 Israeli military invasion operation dubbed “Hot Winter”.

Abdul Rahman Abu Oida was one of these injured.

*Abed, 16, in a Cairo hospital in 2008.

His life will never be the same.

Even now, two years since being shot in his spine by an Israeli sniper, Abed is suffering from various organ failures, let alone the fact that he will never walk again and that sitting in a wheelchair can only be done sparingly due to the pressure it puts on his broken spine.

In 2008, from Cairo, I wrote about Abed:

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]

*Abed’s father points to the direction from where an Israeli sniper shot Abed in the spine. [photo December 2008]

*Abed’s father points to where Abed was found, lying and bleeding. [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.

Abed’s time in Egypt was hellish, seperated 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 occured, 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. An aside…)

Recently, I saw an update about Abed, with whom I’d lost contact, becoming busy in ISM work here and guessing that he was faring alright with his family.  I was wrong.

Tuesday’s Child wrote:

When we met him he was in pain and weak from an infection from pressure sores to the bone acquired in hospital in Egypt, yet he still managed a SMILE. I…V antibiotic treatment at too high a dose for his frail weight also left him with permanent kidney damage and deafness.

We went back to see Abed in January, he had since had one kidney removed and his remaining kidney was weak. He still managed a SMILE. He is one of the bravest young people we have the privilege to know. We just heard this week that Abed is back in hospital and is critcally ill.

This is just one of Palestine’s countless injured, a senseless, brutal, intentional injury which has ruined his life and those of his family.

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