Israel allowed a shipment of cooking gas in today, after 2 weeks of not letting any in at all. Gaza consumes 350 tonnes a day. About two weeks ago, John Ging of UNWRA was telling a legal delegation from the USA about the amount of aid that was being allowed through to Gaza. He explained that UNWRA has the responsibility for feeding the 900,000 people with refugee status (Gaza has 50% unemployment). Yet only enough of UNWRA’s supply trucks are being let through to feed 30,000 of them a day. He said they were lucky if they got 100 trucks a day currently. LESS than in December 08 before the attacks. At which point, due to the ongoing siege, UNWRA’s food supplies had in fact been drained totally. Yet the border has the capacity to process 14,000 trucks a day. Bottom line: Israel wants to starve people. What other conclusion can be drawn?
I was off farming duty because I spent last night on ambulance duty, with medic G. He was telling me that he’d not only had to collect shot fisherman Rafik on Valentine’s Day, but also a 15 year old from Shayjaiee, killed by a shot to the head, near Al Wafa hospital. You might recall I told you about the constant Israeli shooting we heard when we went there, and the hospital staff telling us that was normal. The main incident from the night was that we did a top speed delivery of visiting Morocco doctors from Al Quds hospital to Rafah hospital, to provide surgery to a child of about 12 who had multiple abdomen performations, apparently from a previously unexploded bomb.
In the last days I was in touch with two of the people I knew through the Union of Health Work Committees Gaza head office, where I was volunteering before the attacks. B I’ve seen a few times now, I went and visited her family in Beit Hanoun after bee-moving the other day. I lost contact with her during the attacks due to the phones not working, so I was very pleased to see her after the attacks. In answer to my enquiries, she said her family and house were fine. But a little while later she quietly mentioned that a cousin and her child had been killed.
Then when we met again, she told me what I should have noticed for myself the first time – that she’d lost all her front teeth. She fell while her family were running away from the attacks on their home, and smashed them to pieces. I hate to think how long it took before she got any dental care or even pain relief.
S I bumped into today during 5 minutes at the UHWC’s Al Asria Children’s Centre (sorry Sheffield PSC, I will get there for a proper visit for you soon!). He was the same smiling friendly man I originally met in December. I asked him how many children he had, and he told me of his 5 daughters. Then he mentioned that he also now had a son. A baby of two months, his brother’s boy, who is now his responsibility to care for, because S’s brother was killed in the attacks when the baby was 36 days old. S’s wife survives, a widow after a little over a year of marriage.
At one ambulance home visit last night, medic G and co-worker M and their patient were all puffing away on cigarettes, which makes someone like me, from the smoke-free land of the UK, smile wryly (I can’t talk, you must have noticed the frequency with which I mention shisha sessions.) But I can understand so much better now how hard it is to worry about lung cancer, in a place like this. So many people just don’t live that long. Or if they do, it’s without an eye, or a hand, or legs. And who knows what the phosphorous did to everyone’s lungs anyway.Environmental issues are the same. Environmental campaigning was my first love, and I continue to bewilder shop keepers here by fighting off plastic bags same as back home. But it’s even more of a token gesture than normal. Gaza daily life depends on cheap and replaceable plastic. I hate the stuff. I hate disposeable everything. But anything else is a luxury for almost everyone, and probably isn’t available anyway. And the rubbish that blows about still, from the weeks of war when it couldn’t be collected, just seems so beside the point.
No-one who knows me will believe this, but with the ambulances, during the attacks, I so lost my sense of any future beyond the moment, that I too began to do what most of the medics did due to lack of time and facilities…I would peel off bloodied plastic gloves and simply drop them on the ground. Now I see these gloves fluttering about still, maybe marking a spot where a limb, or a life, was saved or lost. All over Gaza.