Six months after an Israeli bomb left 5-year-old Sara Al Metrabei unable to walk, she has been reunited with her family in Gaza city after seeking medical treatment in Jordan.
Posters welcoming Sara home hang on the wall with other colourful decorations. The entire family, but especially her father and brother, are delighted she has returned. She has not seen them since she flew to Amman with her mother, Lina, after Jordan offered to fund her treatment.
“I can’t express my feelings on seeing Sara after six months. She is better now,” her father, Zaher Al Metrabei, told The National.
Using a special device to help her stand, the pyjama-clad girl moves steadily around her grandparents' cramped home. She wants her new room to be decorated with cartoon character Dora the Explorer, but has not decided what colour it should be painted.
Shrapnel was embedded in Sara's spine when an Israeli bomb hit the family's home during the war between Israel and Gaza militants in May, leaving her unable to move the lower part of her body.
The UN says 685 children were wounded in Gaza during the 11-day conflict. Another 67 were among the 261 people killed in the Palestinian territory, while two children and 11 adults were killed in Israel.
Sara was one of the lucky ones, as her treatment was paid for by the Jordanian government. Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah even visited her at King Hussein Medical City.
Meet 4-year-old Sara, fighting to walk after being hit in an Israeli air strike in Gaza
After undergoing about 10 operations on her legs and spine, she will now continue physical therapy in Gaza hospitals and at home.
Her father puts her in a special device to help her stand for 30 minutes each day, which helps with her recovery and blood circulation, before moving her to a wheelchair.
“Sara wanted to come back to Gaza walking on her own. She is affected psychologically when she sees other children moving around her easily,” Mr Al Metrabei said.
Treatment in Gaza
Before the war, she attended a local nursery, but now, Sara will spend most of her time at home with her mother.
“Sara will need special psychological treatment here in Gaza, to make it easy for her,” her father said.
“We hope that Sara can continue her treatment outside of Gaza, where the treatment will be more developed.”
Ms Al Metrabei was five months pregnant when she travelled with Sara to Jordan and gave birth to a baby boy there two months ago.
“It was not easy for me to deliver my baby alone in Jordan,” she said.
Sara asked her mother to name her new brother Abdullah as a token of gratitude for the support provided by Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
“I am thankful for having my new baby Abdullah in good health and Sara’s condition is improving,” Ms Al Metrabei said.
“Sara kept asking me why this happened to her, asking ‘why me’? I didn’t know what to answer. She spent nights crying and wanted to come back to Gaza to see her father and her brother.”
The 5-year-old was eager to see her father and brother's reaction when they met her new baby brother, her mother said.
“I know that Sara’s chances of walking again are very weak, but we will keep hoping and I keep telling her that she will walk one day.”