Far from violence, Gaza wounded find care at Cairo hospital

Published December 5, 2023
An injured Palestinian woman is stretchered onto an ambulance by paramedics on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.—AFP
An injured Palestinian woman is stretchered onto an ambulance by paramedics on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing.—AFP

CAIRO: Ilham Majid was praying when bombs fell on her Gaza house, and her husband only found her hours later under the rubble, alive but seriously wounded.

She was one of the luckier ones — 17 other family members, including two of her children, were killed in that fateful Oct 31 strike by Israeli forces in the Jabalia refugee camp of northern Gaza.

Now, like several other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, Majid is receiving medical treatment in Egypt.

“All of a sudden I felt the house crumbling. Three stories collapsed on top of me,” the 42-year-old recalled from her hospital bed at Cairo’s Nasser Hospital.

“I got shrapnel all over my body. My liver was hit, my leg, ribs and my jaw are all broken. I cannot walk.” Majid said her husband found her trapped under the rubble of the house by chance four-and-a-half hours later, thanks to one of her fingers that was sticking out.

“I almost could not breathe — almost dead,” she said.

Her 15-year-old daughter was killed in the bombardment, and 10 days later the body of her 17-year-old son was pulled from under the debris. It was already rotting.

Ever since the tragedy that ripped apart her family — 50 relatives were staying at the house when it was hit — Majid has been looking at pictures of her son on her cell phone.

Since early October, several Palestinians wounded in Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, and some suffering various illnesses, have been authorised to leave the besieged territory and travel to Egypt for medical care.

‘Shock’

The United Nations says not a single hospital in northern Gaza can carry out surgeries after several were attacked by Israel, while those in the south are overwhelmed by the number of casualties they receive daily.

At Cairo’s Nasser Hospital, patients such as Majid are trying to slowly regain their strength far away from the violence and chaos consuming Gaza. Yussef, 13, lay in a bed staring into the distance, his face puffy.

 Palestinian boy Youssef, 13, receives medical care at Nasser Institute hospital in Cairo, on Dec 3, 2023, after he was evacuated to Egypt. — AFP
Palestinian boy Youssef, 13, receives medical care at Nasser Institute hospital in Cairo, on Dec 3, 2023, after he was evacuated to Egypt. — AFP

Dried blood stained his right leg which was held together with metal rods.

“He was in a complete state of shock when I found him,” said his older brother, under the rubble of their four-storey home in the Shati refugee camp. In another hospital room further down the corridor, Lubna al-Shafei, 36, said she was being treated for a “neck wound”.

“On October 23, our house in the centre of Gaza City was destroyed. My son was killed and my husband was wounded,” she said. On Wednesday the Egyptian health ministry announced the launch of an initiative aimed at providing medical care for 1,000 children wounded in Gaza.

Already 28 premature babies who were trapped at Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest which was besieged and ultimately raided by Israeli forces, have been taken to Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates and Tunisia have also taken in Palestinians wounded in Gaza, namely children in need of medical care. France and Italy have sent ships to Egypt to serve as hospitals for wounded civilians from Gaza.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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