Meet Gaza's toddler fighting to walk after Israeli airstrike

Four-year-old Sara has been recovering in a Jordanian hospital since the conflict in May

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Sara Al Metrabei, 4, was asleep when an Israeli missilehit her apartment block during the 11-day conflict in May.

She was hit by several pieces of shrapnel. The most severe injury, to her spine, left her unable to get out of bed.

Sara, a child who symbolises the toll of the latest war between Israel and Hamas on Palestinian lives, has received almost 10 operations so she might walk again since being brought to Jordan for treatment four months ago.

She arrived in the kingdom days after the air strike. When she was admitted to hospital, she had a visit from Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah.

Although she is being cared for at Jordan’s top military hospital, she is still unable to stand or even sit up.

On the day The National visited her at King Hussein Medical City, Sara was playing with her colouring books and wore a yellow ribbon in her hair. Her mother, Lina, was by her side.

Lina, who is six months pregnant, is hoping physical therapy will enable Sara to walk again.

“They told me that she needs from three to six months,” she says, referring to the doctors looking after Sara.

Sara’s father has been trying to travel to Jordan to see his wife and daughter.

Lina says he has been denied entry to Egypt, the only route to the country for civilians in Gaza.

She said Sara “wants to go back”, despite the continuing blockade of the enclave and the danger there.

“Our lives are there. Gaza is unique, Gaza is steadfast,” Lina said.

Sara’s first word after the missile struck was “Mama”, Lina said.

Lina said the apartment above them took the brunt of the strike.

“There was no warning,” she said.

“I took rubble off her and carried her. The ambulance arrived quickly.”

The vast majority of those who died in the 11-day war in May were Palestinian.

Israeli strikes killed at least 212 Palestinians in Gaza, compared with 13 people killed by Hamas attacks on Israel.

Israeli forces and settlers also killed more than 20 Palestinians during unrest in the West Bank.

Updated: September 14, 2021, 8:42 AM