Gaza karate champion hit by Israeli strike dies in Egypt hospital

Nagham Abu Samra, 24, was a role model for girls in her neighbourhood, her father says

Nagham Abu Samra, a karate champion from Gaza, had her leg amputated after an Israeli strike and remained in a coma until her death in an Egyptian hospital. Photo: Mohammad Abu Samra
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A Palestinian karate champion who lost her leg in an Israeli strike in Gaza last month has died in Egypt, days after being taken to the country for treatment, her father told The National on Friday.

Nagham Abu Samra, 24, who had been in a coma since the attack on December 18 that killed her sister Rosanne, suffered from complications in the days before death, her father said.

She had been moved from the intensive care unit of Al Aqsa Martyr's Hospital in Deir Al Balah, central Gaza, to the southern border and then across into Egypt.

With all of Gaza's hospitals destroyed or damaged, reaching medical care in Egypt was seen as Ms Abu Samra's only chance of survival.

“I feel like I'm losing her,” Marwan Abu Samra told The National on WhatsApp hours before his daughter's death at Bier Elabd hospital, in the Egyptian city of Al Arish.

At the time, he said her heart rate had gone up and the dressing for her amputated leg needed changing. She needed more tests but her condition was too serious.

“Nagham was an exceptional woman,” Mr Abu Samra said.

He said she always stayed in touch with people in the area she grew up in and tried to be a role model for the girls she taught at the women's gym she opened.

“She knew everybody in the neighbourhood and always made sure to ask about people. She would join people in their good times and the sad,” he said.

Ms Abu Samra was rarely seen without her white uniform and black hijab, having won first and second place in the Palestinian Karate Championships in 2017 and 2019.

Her love for the sport was so strong that she decided to pursue a bachelor's and master's degree in physical education.

She then opened her gym, offering karate training to girls.

Ms Abu Samra had tried to remain positive even after her mother's death from cancer four months before the war in Gaza began in early October.

According to her brothers, she was their father's favourite and the closest to him out of his four children.

Mr Abu Samra remained by his daughter's side as much as he could while she was unconscious. He slept on a wooden chair outside her room in the Egyptian hospital.

In Gaza, he slept in a car outside Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. The hospital has since come under attack from Israeli forces.

Updated: January 12, 2024, 2:05 PM