CAIRO: On Jan. 28, 2008 Gaza’s Jabalya Refugee Camp was under siege once again. On the second morning, 14-year-old Mohamed Wadi and six of his friends roamed around the camp despite the announced curfew.Like typical teenagers, they were on the streets purely out of curiosity. When they came across a house that had been hit by a rocket they entered it, helping out in whatever ways they could. Upon leaving the home the boys were met by an Israeli tank that opened fire on them. The tank killed two of them and left the other five seriously injured. According to the victim’s mother, even the ambulance that attempted to reach them was initially fired at before it was finally allowed access to the victims. Mohamed’s left hand and both his legs were broken. He sustained multiple fractures in both his legs – the bones were shattered. He was operated on in Gaza City the next day, where two metal plates were inserted into his legs. The following day, he was transferred to Egypt, as part of 400 emergency cases to be admitted in Egyptian hospitals. The exceptional Egyptian opening of the Egypt-Gaza border was due only to the severity of Israel’s attacks on the Jabalya Camp during those days.Twenty-seven days later, Mohamed still has not been operated on in Cairo due to the severity of the infections in his wounds.Om Mohamed, who accompanied her son to the Nasser Institute Hospital in Cairo, has been sleeping on the floor next to her son’s hospital bed for nearly a month now. Yet, she is cheerful and optimistic. “We are used to it, she told Daily News Egypt. “Gaza is missing many, many things; we have no cooking gas, no petrol. The hospitals are running out of oxygen. For eight years her husband has been unemployed. “All I need is some bread and some salt and I am content, the mother of eight said. Om Mohamed explained that she was happy when the border between Gaza and Egypt was breached in late January. “We were hoping that it would remain open all the time, she said.Egypt has recently finalized the resealing of the border.
Zeyad Qdeh has a degree in social work and over a year ago started working at the local municipality. A few months later he was hit by a rocket while participating in a peaceful demonstration near the border with Israel where he lives east of the city of Khan Younis. Both his legs were broken and half his body was temporarily paralyzed. During operations a direct incision had to be made in his windpipe in order to allow the flow of oxygen through his lungs. The continued medical treatment he required was not available in Gaza. Thus, for eight months Qdeh had to wait at home until the border with Egypt opened, allowing him and hundreds of other serious medical cases out of Gaza. In his barely audible voice Qdeh explained there was no treatment available in Gaza, and that hospitals sometimes run out of diesel for their generators. On one occasion an ambulance had to be pushed by passersby because it had run out of gasoline.Upon arrival at the Nasser Institute, the 24-year-old was informed that the operation was too difficult for them to perform and it would be best for him to seek a private doctor to carry it out. “I don’t have the LE 5,000 that the operation requires, Qdeh told Daily News Egypt, but with the help of his brother he hopes to make ends meet.”Don’t ask me about the situation in Gaza, it’s a holocaust, Qdeh explained. “Gazans will soon start eating sand. Israel is firing rockets randomly at everybody, including civilians. “God had mercy on us that the border was opened and we were able to bring in some goods, he said referring to Gaza’s breached border with Egypt in late January. “We are still living from those supplies. Qdeh is afraid he will lose his job if he is absent for too much longer. He hopes that Egypt’s president will be able to gather rival factions Fatah and Hamas together and reconcile them. “Then people can live in freedom and with honor, he said.As long as only Hamas rules in Gaza, Israel’s siege on it would continue, Qdeh exclaimed. Israel’s justification for its actions in Gaza is its labeling of Hamas as a terrorist organization. According to Qdeh, Israel’s final goal seems to be that Gaza would become part of Egypt, while the West Bank is incorporated into Jordan.
Grasping an opportunity
Seven-year-old Abdullah Maarouf was hit by shrapnel while playing in the street near his home almost a year ago. The first grader’s jaw was broken but he was only admitted to Egypt to receive proper treatment less than a month ago. His grandfather Hassan is accompanying him. “As soon as they called us we left immediately without anything, he explained. Upon hearing the news that they would be traveling to Egypt, Hassan got his grandson from school and left straight for the border. They brought practically nothing with them. “I am a laborer, Hasan explained, pointing down at his heavily calloused hands, “but these days there is no work whatsoever. Israel has significantly restricted Gazan laborers crossing its borders for the past eight years. During this time neither Hasan nor his son has had any work. “We survive, Hasan told Daily News Egypt, “by begging for food from humanitarian organizations. The UN reported in December 2007 that 80 percent of Gazans are reliant on food aid from international organizations. Red-headed Abdullah is full of life despite the turmoil he has experienced. Om Mohamed can’t wait to return to the rest of her children, but she knows it will be at least another two to three months before her son’s operations would be completed. Zeyad, afraid of losing his job, is hoping his brother Ahmed will return with good news that he has found enough money to keep him alive.