Gaza's war is far from over for injured children clinging to life in hospital

More than 500 children in Gaza were injured during the 11-day conflict, with some needing specialist care and facing life-changing injuries

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At 2am on Friday, May 21, Gaza’s 11-day nightmare ended after some of the heaviest Israeli air strikes on the enclave.

But the war was far from over for young Sarah.

Lying in a hospital bed in room number three of the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza city, the four-year-old cried and refused any contact with her doctor, who was struggling to examine her, asking her to move her hand.

He feared she may be suffering partial paralysis from her injuries.

"She is crying all the time, she is afraid and she doesn't want to talk to anyone," Sara's aunt Amal Al Mattrabi'y told The National.

Sara was sleeping in her home when Israeli warplanes bombed the house, located at Al Thalatheni street in Gaza city. Sara and her mother were injured.

"Sara unfortunately will suffer from lower hemiplegia, because of her injuries in her brain, and thoracic and cervical vertebrae," Jordanian neurosurgeon and spinal surgery consultant Dr Rami Algroom told The National.

“Doctors carried out a number of surgeries for her to stop the bleeding, and we will put a treatment plan in place to improve her condition,” he said.

Dr Algroom arrived in Gaza a week ago to help treat a surge in injuries that was overwhelming hospitals as the conflict escalated.

Sara’s family refuses to admit that she will have to continue her life in a wheelchair, and pray to God that a miracle can avert this outcome.

"I have come to Gaza in the previous wars and treated wounded people, but this time I see most of the injuries affect children, in the brain and bone marrow. About one tenth of cases among children need to get treatment outside of Gaza," Dr Algroom said.

Marah Albahtiti, 5, was another child laying in the intensive care unit at Alshifa hospital. She was connected to a ventilator after doctors conducted several operations to stabilise her condition.

Marah came to the hospital seven days after her home was bombed by Israeli warplanes.

"Marah came to the hospital with serious injuries, and in shock. We treated her immediately while she was awake but she did not react," Dr Jamal Al Harazeen, general doctor at Alshifa hospital told The National.

"She suffered a number of wounds to her abdomen, hands and legs. Four specialist doctors were inside the operation room, conducting a number of surgical operations, beside plastic surgery."

Dr Al Harazeen said that Marah will require life support until she can breathe by herself.

According to the heath ministry of Gaza, about 540 patients under 18 years entered the hospital with different injuries. At least 232 Palestinians have died, 65 of them children and 39 of them women while more than 1,900 have been wounded.

Six-year-old Ibraheem Jineed was lying in room number five at Alshifa hospital, waiting to be transferred to Egypt to continue his treatment.

"Losing time is not good for him, his condition could worsen if he doesn't leave Gaza for treatment," said Sohaib Jineed, Ibraheem's 22-year-old cousin to The National.

Ibrahim suffered injuries to his bowels, which have now inflamed and he needs to get treatment immediately.

Ibrahim was sitting in front of his home in Jabaliya camp, north of the Gaza Strip, on the first day of the war when shelling killed his brother and injured another of his brothers.

The ministry of health has launched a distress call asking international humanitarian organisations and relief institutions to aid the health sector.

The ministry says $46 million will be needed initially to provide medicines and medical equipment, after supplies have become depleted following Israel’s blockade of the enclave.

After 1,000 Israeli air strikes, a truce came into effect on May 21 at 2am following intensive Egyptian mediation.

The end of hostilities was greeted by thousands of Palestinians in Gaza taking to the streets in celebration, a cacophony of whistles and cheers as residents of the city welcomed the announcement of what local militants called a victory over the Israelis.