Facing life in the Gaza Strip with a new disability
Ghazal, and thousands of children in the Gaza Strip, have lost limbs and their dreams. They also face an unknown future.
In the Gaza Strip, the life of any child could turn into a nightmare in the blink of an eye. Families try to keep their children safe, but this becomes harder and harder with the intense bombardments. Many houses have been destroyed, and many children ended up under the rubble. More than 9,000 children have been injured in the Gaza Strip, leaving many grappling with the loss of an arm or a leg.
This is the story about a childhood lost under the rubble, how the dreams of children turned into nightmares and an extremely difficult journey of recovery. Ghazal, a 4-year-old child from the Gaza Strip is bearing the direct impact of the war on her body. On October 12, her house was hit by shelling. She was disoriented and shocked and had an immense pain in her left leg.
Ghazal suffered a severe leg injury that wiped her smile off her face. Given the level of destruction and security concerns, the medical team could not reach her. A doctor living in her neighborhood performed a makeshift surgery to stop the bleeding from her leg.
As in many other cases in the Gaza Strip, the doctor had to carry out the surgery in inadequate conditions and without anesthesia due to the lack of medical supplies and equipment. The doctor managed to stop the bleeding. But her leg was infected. After several days, finally reaching al Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the medical team was confronted with a terrible decision: they needed to amputate Ghazal’s leg.
During the process, Ghazal was accompanied by her family. As she was preparing for the amputation, her father stood by her side, holding her close and enveloping her with his love. He offered all the support and affection she needed to endure a process that no child, anywhere, should ever have to experience.
After the operation, Ghazal spent several days to recover at the hospital. While she was laying for hours on a small bed in the corridor of the hospital, grappling with intense pain, her family remained by her side.
All health professionals in the Gaza Strip are operating with extremely limited resources. At times, they find themselves operating without electricity or running water, in poor hygiene conditions. This terrible situation also highlights the incredible dedication and resilience of healthcare providers who are working in continuous shifts.
Before the war, statistics indicated that 12% of Palestinian children aged 2-17 faced one or more functional difficulties, while 21% of households in Gaza include at least one member with physical or mental disabilities. Despite limited data currently available, estimates suggest a significant increase in disabilities among children.
The voice of Ghazal is the echo of the plight of thousands of children in the Gaza Strip. We need an immediate, sustained humanitarian ceasefire, and we need it now.