By Gideon Levy
Due to strict Israeli restrictions imposed on Gaza Strip, Gaza patients, including children are obliged to travel for treatment in West Bank, Jerusalem alone.
Writing for Haaretz about several cases, the Israeli journalist Gideon Livy said: “It is not difficult to imagine what the child’s parents, in the prison that is the Gaza Strip, are going through, hearing the weeping of their little girl every day over the phone and unable to help – not to be by her side, not to hug her, caress her, tend to her in her suffering.
“You do not have to be an oncologist or an expert in the psyche to know that the mental condition of a youngster hospitalised far from his or her parents affects the prospects of recovery. There are studies that have concluded as much.”
Taking Miral Abu Aisha as an example, Levy said: “The look on Miral’s face says it all: the anguished features of a little girl, a study in pain. There are balloons in the room, dolls on the bed, and a grandmother by her side – but Miral’s face bespeaks suffering.
“Occasionally, she is on the brink of tears, but holds back in order not to cry in front of strangers. But at some point, she can no longer contain herself and begins to weep. She’s sitting on the bed, the chemo tube attached to her arm, dripping the liquid directly into her vein.”
Miral Abu Amsha is a 10-year-old girl with leukaemia. She has been hospitalised for two weeks in Al Najah University Hospital in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.
She has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment that is expected to continue for another four months at least, and her father and mother are not at her side. Her parents are far away, in the occupied Gaza Strip, beyond the hills of darkness, where a strict Israeli siege has been in place for more than 13 years.
‘A portrait of the essence of Israeli evil’
Levy says: “Miral misses them, Miral is sad, Miral barely speaks. Her grandmother who has been allowed to be with her, is in despair, imploring the Israeli guests who have suddenly entered the room to help.”
He adds: “This could well be the saddest place in the occupied territories. Every children’s ward in every hospital is a sad place; the rooms of children suffering from cancer are sadder still.
“But the rooms of children from Gaza who are suffering from cancer and hospitalised here at Al Najah in Nablus – where many are cut off from their parents at such a terrible time – are truly heartrending places.
“It is hard to spend any length of time here. The atmosphere of distress and helplessness is unbearable. A portrait of the essence of Israeli evil.
“Physically, the scene resembles any children’s ward in a modern hospital: colourful paintings on the walls, a playroom, a classroom for those hospitalised for long periods, spacious rooms for no more than two patients, comfortable armchairs for the family – everything that could help relieve a child’s suffering.
“But this week there were seven children from the Gaza Strip here, and only two were with their mothers. As for fathers, dream on. Israel’s ‘security’ considerations, you know.
“Most of the children were with their grandmother or aunt, and in some cases with a woman they didn’t know – whatever person was able to get an exit permit from the Gaza prison.
“All these children are here, in the West Bank, in an area supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, without their parents – by order of Israel – because no treatment is available for them in Gaza under the siege conditions there.”