By Mohammed Ali
Islamic Relief Palestine Media Officer
IR Palestine – Gaza City – Today is Saturday, 1 March 2008 which is one of the bloodiest days in recent Gaza history as 62 Palestinians lost their lives.
In the beginning of the day I woke up and turned on the television and watched news that was talking about 30 Gazans killed and other 100 injured. TVs were broadcasting the scenes of children crying and terrified. Ambulances were carrying bodies of little babies and children. After a while, I realized that Israel has escalated their military operation when the rolled inside Jabalia refugee camp which has highest density of population.
Sounds of unmanned spy planes and military helicopters were clearly heard all the time as well as explosions. At the same time, the Holy Qu’ran was being played by all mosques in Gaza. The general atmosphere was sad, tense and in expectation of the worst.
I prepared myself and I decided to go right to the main hospital in Gaza City and I took the camera with me. I never could have expected what was waiting me. As soon as I arrived to Al-Shifa Hospital’s reception and emergency room I noticed clothes and shoes covered in blood. A while later, ambulances started to arrive one after another to the emergency rooms where I was standing. The first one was carrying a 16 year old boy, full of blood, while the second one was carrying two men and an ambulance officer. One of the two men were dead and covered while the second one was cut of like pieces. The ambulance officer was screaming as he had injuries in the thigh. At that time, at least five ambulances came at once. The emergency room was full of injured, doctors, families, journalists… everybody was running, screaming and crying.
While I was taking photos, I noticed the 16 year old boy who came to the hospital the time I arrived, I walked toward him, but no one was there for him, I started to speak with him trying to calm him dawn but he was crying and completely horrified. Suddenly he looked at me with his teary eyes and told me, “Please help me…don’t let me die.” I didn’t know what to do but to hold his hands and to tell him not to worry and I am next to him. The boy’s injuries were serious as I could see bleeding holes in his young and innocent body. I ran to find any doctors to give me a hand, but all the doctors were extremely busy. Finally I found one and he came with me back to the boy. The doctor shouted after checking him “There’s a boy here in need for immediate surgery”. The boy was crying more and more after he heard these words, and for me I was still holding his hands until they took him to operating room. I still do not know what happened with him.
The incident make me feel so bad, I called my boss (Dr. Mohammed Alsousi) and I explained him what was happening in the hospital, minutes later he came to the hospital. While standing and waiting together I heard that the number of martyrs increased to 42 as a residential building had been targeted and 10 members from ‘Atallah family’ had been killed in a single strike.
Finally I decided to go back home to rest, thinking mistakenly that things had finished. The opposite happened as the attacks escalated against civilians in the northern Gaza Strip and the number of the causalities was dramatically increasing. I went back to Al-Shifa Hospital and I waited in the same place and soon a normal car came driving in very fast and everyone started to run thinking the car was carrying the injured but it was not. Three ladies came out of the car crying and running inside the emergency room, screaming “I want to see him… I know he is dead…” Obviously, she knew that her son was one of the martyrs inside the hospital morgue. Nothing can be worse than the feeling when you know your child is dead.
Every ten minutes an ambulance arrived with dead bodies and/ or injured. What seemed most unbelievable was that most of them were women and children. By 10:00pm local time, 62 Gazans had been pronounced dead, 17 of them were children while there were another 200 Gazans injured of which about 80 which are in critical condition.
Still the day did not finish as Al-Shifa Hospital called Islamic Relief for an urgent appeal meeting to find a way to supply the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with four life monitors, surgery bandages and other disposables and two ventilators as the ICU was completely overloaded with injuries and far exceeded the capacity of the hospital.
I went back to the hospital for the third time in the same day as Islamic Relief responded to the urgent hospital appeal for medical equipment. This time I had to enter the ICU in order to document the delivery of the machines. Entering the ICU was a shock to me because I could see so many people with but little hope to live… the sound of life monitoring tones were everywhere… the scene was indescribable. I started to take photos for some of the cases. The first one was of a youth that lost his leg and the second was a boy covered by bandages in the face with lots of wires, and many others.
Among the monitoring tones, doctors, and nearly dead people lying dawn, I noticed a young baby aged 15 months, from the ‘Abu Jarrbou’h’ family. I looked at her while a doctor was checking her and I could read in her face the true meaning of innocence. I asked the doctor about her case and he told me that she’s in critical but stable condition. There was something really attaching me with this little baby; it could be because I have a baby of almost the exact same age.
Technicians were busy setting up the new life monitors and the ventilators machines donated by Islamic Relief in the same ICU. Ten minutes later, I heard a noise…doctors are running here and there…they’re running toward this young baby and pushing constantly on her chest…the alarm of the monitor was loud and giving off a red light…I walked toward her bed and closely watched her and with a broken heart I asked the doctors about her condition…meanwhile there was a doctor saying over and over in English ‘no response!’ At that moment, I was praying and praying…I was calling Allah SWT to help her…the doctors were still busy, and I suddenly heard one of the doctors was saying ‘there’s hope’…two minutes later had her stabilized and they said she had a chances to live. At that moment, I felt both little happy and sad. Happy because I knew that she have a chance to live, while sad because I questioned what had she ever done to deserve to have been shot right in the head?!
I went back to the technicians and I stayed with them for about 15 minutes until they finally finished setting up the new Islamic Relief donated machines. I had wanted them to finish quickly because I wanted to go back to the same baby and give her a kiss and to pray for her a better chance in life. As I was walking toward her, I was shocked to see doctors removing all the wires out of her body as they turned and told me that she just died.
I couldn’t believe it, I looked at the doctor without asking him anything, he exclaimed to me, ‘I did my best… but this is Allah’s will.’
With a broken heart I went back home, looking with tears at my son and so afraid that my son might be next.
Islamic Relief 2008/03/07