Reem A. Hamadaqa writes from Gaza,
“I arrived at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital on March 2 after surviving an attack that killed 14 members of my family. I was the sole survivor in my family. When I arrived at the hospital I was suffering from pelvic and acetabular fractures that kept me from walking or even standing….From my bed in Room 7 on the third floor of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital I was able to witness the suffering of more than 25 wounded women and children.”

He elaborates on some of the patients he saw.

Karima, 50, got injured during Ramadan’s first days. She lost 52 people of her family; including her son, his wife, and her grandchild among the martyrs. Her back and legs were completely burned. Screaming out of pain, she went for surgeries day after day. She could not undergo any operations during her first week in the hospital due to the severity of her injuries. She waited helplessly to be able to travel to receive the proper treatment, and she died 50 days after being injured. Those days echoed the 50 years she lived, but they were solely full of pain.

On the first evening of Eid, four people came to Room 7 sobbing and screaming. The house beside theirs got bombed and shrapnel hit their gas supply. Nasra, a mother of two, was cooking Eid dinner when the bombing hit. The gas became a fireball within seconds and burned Nasra, 29, her daughter, Qamar, 2, her brother, Yousef, 13, and her nephew, Hasan, 1.

Within a week, little Hasan died. After multiple surgeries, the other three started to heal. Tragically, however, a month after being discharged from the hospital, Yousef’s house was bombed and he was burned again all over his body. He died three days later.

In May, Hala, 22, and her two-year-old son, Esam, were bombed while in their house and they were the sole survivors from under the rubble. Her back and both legs were burned and her son’s face and legs were, too. Both are waiting for the Rafah crossing to open to travel for medical care.

Wesam, 27, had been diagnosed with diabetes. She was living in a tent when a piece of wood cut her foot. The overwhelming number of injuries means that hospitals are not able to give each patient the time and treatment they need to recover. Doctors had no choice but to amputate her foot. 

Asma’ tore my heart apart. She is only 16 years old. She looked a very nice, and was a neat and calm girl. While displaced in Al Nuseirat Camp, a piece of shrapnel severely wounded her right hand. Like many others, she waited for her medical referral for treatment. Unlike many others, after about 40 days, she finally received it.

Dana, only 3, got wounded by a quadcopter bullet while living in a tent. It cut through her stomach, kidney, and intestines and stopped near her heart. She underwent a difficult surgery, but still had the bullet stuck in her little body. Her father was martyred during the first days of this war but she kept crying for him. “Dad! I want my dad!”

Lubna had the most tragic story I heard. She is 13 and is the eldest daughter in her family. A missile hit her house in Khan Younis and killed her entire family but her. She lost her parents and all her siblings. After undergoing multiple surgeries, her aunts and uncles found it difficult to tell her the truth. They kept telling her that her parents were alive but severely injured. She left the hospital for her uncle’s house, still without knowing she was the only survivor in her family.

I befriended Mira, 6 years old. She was displaced in Deir El Balah and the building she was in got bombed by a shell. A shrapnel injured her right leg, creating a wide-open wound. Screaming, she got her wound cleaned out without any anesthetic. Even so young, and in so much pain, she would still insist on trying to brighten my mood, whenever she saw me sad. 

It was seeing the wounded mothers who were suffering from both pain and loss that was the most devastating. It saddened me even more when they forgot about their own pain and thought only about their wounded or dead children.

Lina, 33, lost her two daughters in the bombardment of her neighbor’s home and her back was broken in the attack. Immediately, she underwent an operation. Incapable of walking or even a little movement, she just kept crying for her two babies.

I don’t think that Nasra once screamed from the pain of her own burns. Each time she did cry, she was crying for her injured two-year-old daughter.

Almost all women in Room 7 were mothers. Samar, 38, lost her youngest son, Sanad, and had her arm shattered. Amal, 36, had her leg crushed, and was confined to a surgical bed, leaving her kids, who visited her many times, to fend for themselves. Sabreen, 29, had gaping injuries in both legs, and a newborn baby. Ameer, her son, was only a month old when she was hurt and he was forced to live his second and third months in hospitals with his mother.

Almost 70% of the wounded need more complex surgeries and medical care than could be provided through the decimated health sector in Gaza and need to travel to receive it. I, for one, was not able to receive the proper medical treatment I needed, and I was also not given permission to travel. And there are many more like me, helplessly waiting her turn to travel. Karima died waiting. All patients are now waiting for an unknown amount of time since the Rafah crossing was closed on May 6.