January 17 – Starting again at Al Quds

Cleaning Choreography

Cleaning Choreography

Let me start with the good news. I found it surprisingly destabilising having to evacuate the hospital. Since the strikes began, I have spent more nights here than anywhere else, and it began to feel like coming ‘home’ each time I arrived, especially with the welcome I unfailingly received. There is a sense of order in a hospital, of safety and care and compassion. When a handful of us came back to mind the hospital at about 3 am after evacuation, with the remains of the fire still resisting the fire-fighters, it felt very bleak. Beds were scattered in the road; inside, things were overturned and broken after the hurried leaving, the place was covered with mud. In most rooms there were waterfalls. Two out of three of our buildings were blackened and smouldering.

I wandered about in the operations room, clearing things up so it wouldn’t look so sad. If I felt displaced, when I had a perfectly good flat to go to, what about all the medical folks here whose homes have been destroyed in the last weeks, for whom this was their only warm, comfortable, safe place?

EB makes us chips

EB makes us chips

But yesterday the Red Crescent met and decided they wanted to work from Al-Quds again, and even better, the hospital will be open on Monday. I forgot to allow for the fact that they have no choice. Today I arrived to a completely revived atmosphere on the ground floor – lights working again, most things back in place, mud washed away, and disaster team boys sliding around their room on a cloth to dry their floor. I haven’t been to visit the bits of the hospital that were burning two days ago. Right now I think I’ll just enjoy what I see. Some of the medics are making us a potato chip dinner. The triplets are now at Nasser children’s hospital, by the way.

So you remember I wrote this about Wed morning Jan 14:

“While there, heard shouting, went up stairs to see medic S covered in blood, he had just carried a little girl in from the street who snipers had shot in face and abdomen. We saw her father fall on the hospital stairs, having been shot in the leg. Mother was panicking, shouting there was another girl left behind. S, I and other medics went out to get her, found her not far away, S took her on his shoulders into the hospital. The other medics and I realised they were just the beginning of a stream of desperate people fleeing their buildings, many of which were on fire.”

This was the Batran family. Faddel al Batran, 54, was shot in the leg. Yasmine, 12, was the girl we went to bring in. Haneen, 9, was the one shot in the face and abdomen: I knew she had been taken straight into surgery at Al-Quds. today I found out that she was transferred to Al-Shifa and died shortly afterwards.

Last night they bombed another UNRWA school in which homeless people had taken refuge in Beit Lahia. There are 36 wounded, including 14 children. Two boys aged 3 and 8 are dead. John Ging of UNRWA was on the TV being coldly furious. But as I type (I’ll be reading this out over the phone to the UK for uploading) a truce has apparently begun. It is strangely quiet. Everyone desperately wants to hope it’ll have some meaning.

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5 Responses to January 17 – Starting again at Al Quds

  1. pamela says:

    The resiliance of the Palestinians never fails to amaze me . I was praying that the little girl would live , now she has a name..Haneen ..may she rest in peace , I hope her family find some peace .
    I,m so glad the triplets are safe , their mum must be at her wits end …seeing the Israeli have all the co-ordinates of every UN building it seems to me as much as I dont want to believe it , but they are targetting children , why would they bomb the places where they know children and babies are?
    I,ve seen Mr Ging on tv , the poor man is biting his lip everytime he speaks ..if only the rest of the “civilised “world would speak out against this cold blooded , calculated massacre, the ordinary people of the world are with the Gazans .
    Yesterday i had to go down town in Damascus , there are US and Israeli flags pasted on the pavement s, so you have to walk on them (I wiped my feet on them !!)there were spontanious demonstrations down the middle of the main shopping street, no one was playing music except for the Song for Gaza and Arabic songs for Gaza and the Quoran , everyone was watching the news on their tvs in the shops , everyone is somber . In Turkey the taxi drivers are donating one days fares for Gaza ..
    Apparently Olmert made a speech last night where he said he really likes the Gazans and will help rebuild their city!! I can,t get over how blazen these people are , I expect the Gazans will tell him to shove his offer of help up somewhere where the sun never shines !!!
    God bless you and all the medics and the people of Gaza…Pamela

  2. Jane Jewell says:

    If this cease fire really does last, please make sure that you look after yourself and get a good night’s rest. You have done a wonderful job reporting, but you must take care of yourself too.
    You have been tremendous.

  3. beatrice says:

    People are watching and protesting and trying to get their voices heard so that your voices, too, can be heard from all over the world, even in the torpidity of conformity that Australia often is. I am so sorry to hear that the girl hit by the sniper bullet died. That anyone died. This ‘ceasefire’ is unfair, but let’s hope it gives you all some rest, at least for a while. Yes, to quote Jane Jewell, you have been tremendous.

  4. mamawork says:

    I have been following your reporting on what is happening and have been too ashamed to comment. I live in Israel and I am mortified that this is happening/has happened.

    You are consistently in my thoughts.

  5. Lizette Tejada says:

    Yes, please rest and try to take care of yourself as well. Hugs and prayers for all of you.

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