The scene of rain was very beautiful; the lands of Gaza covered with a white colour, the smell of the land fertilizing my soul. Raindrops fell on my face and hair, my eyes went blank, and I stared off, and the sad music started because I remembered the martyrs, the injured and the orphans. There was a patch of blue sky, I raised my hands, and prayed for all.
In the early morning, I went to my university as usual, but afterwards I decided to visit the European Gaza Hospital. I had never imagined it would be such a hassle to enter the hospital and obtain some information. I spent almost one hour without doing anything except going up and down, from one office to another, in order to get the official permission. It was far from easy.
In the latest assault on Gaza, 43 Palestinian children have been killed, and many more injured, by the Israeli war machine. I will try and present an impression of the violence that Palestinian children have been subjected to.
I interviewed a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Ahmed Abu Tu‘aim, who works for 35 hours a week at the European Hospital and the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital. He said it is difficult to describe the situation exactly. I saw a hint of a tear in his eyes when he said this. Then he went on to say that he didn‘t witness all the causalities, because he worked in shifts, with some doctors attending, while others rest in their homes. His main specialization is to diagnose and treat congenital defects in children, as well as to perform other surgical operations.
Dr Abu Tu’aim, due to his specialization, deals with the injured children only if they have abdominal or chest injuries. I asked him what types of injuries were seen during the recent war on Gaza. He replied that there are three types: light injuries, meaning scratches, simple cuts and bruises. In medium type injuries there are tiny fragments and simple burns, but they can also be quite serious, like the injuries of the little girl from the al Nassasra family. The nerve, which feeds the leg, was severely damaged, and her operation took five hours to complete. Her face was also badly burned, but she is doing much better now.
The third and most dangerous type is that of severe injuries. In this case, the child can be either in completely conscious or semi-conscious, and on clinical medical examination there is bleeding in the abdomen, the brain or the chest as a result of the presence of fragments in the body. Additionally, there are often fractures in several parts of the body like the arms and legs.
The injuries of Anas Abu Khater, three years old, fall into this category. Many fragments were found all over the child’s body, and a CT-scan revealed bleeding inside of the abdominal cavity. The patient was immediately taken to the operating room section. He was found to have multiple perforations of the bowels and the stomach. A part of the bowel had to be removed, and the perforations were closed. After the operation, the child was taken to the intensive care department, to be kept under close supervision by the surgeon and sustain his vital functions. Unfortunately, after some time, the situation of the child worsened, and he was transferred for treatment abroad. I wanted to know more about this, but because of security regulations I was unable to obtain all the information. I am planning to visit the hospital again and find out more about these horrible injuries, and if I have the chance I am planning to visit some of the patients in their homes .
A family friend who lives and works in Occupied Jerusalem told my father in 2010 that physical and verbal violence was used against children in detention in 70 % of the cases. Most violent incidents occurred during transportation in the army jeep, or during the long wait at military bases or police stations. The arrested children are often made to wait for hours on end, often with their hands painfully tied behind their backs with plastic handcuffs while blindfolded, deprived of food and drink, and deprived of sleep and access to a toilet.
Back then, I wrote down the testimony of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy: “I was on my way to the grocery store. at the time there were clashes going on between the youths and the army. I tried to flee the area. A vehicle approached me, and in it were four mista‘aravim*. Two of them attacked and cursed me (come here , you son of a bitch !). They dragged me into the jeep and started hitting me ( punching and kicking ) and i felt dizzy. They covered my eyes and put me on the floor between their feet. Then they took me to David HaLevi, and then the mista‘aravim got off the jeep and took me to the Moscovia prison.”
I firmly believe that the proceedings of International Law need to be applied in these cases, and that these should reflect the seriousness of these terrible crimes. More children die as a result of Israeli aggression, than of natural causes. Let us put our minds together, and see how we can restore normality to the lives of our children. After all, children are the best hope for our future.
*) : mista‘aravim – Hebrew word used to describe Israeli secret agents dressed up as Arabs