"Bloodied and dying Gazans hunt for cover
Friends try to comfort a distraught Palestinian over the bodies of three children, one of them his son, at al-Shifa Hospital yesterday. Photo: Reuters
January 6, 2009
AS ISRAELI forces attacked Gaza by land, sea and air, residents living in the congested coastal strip faced a fateful question: should they flee the shelling and shooting, or hole up inside their homes and hope for the best?
The five-member al-Jarou family decided to make a break for it around midday on Sunday. They abandoned their home in the Shaaf neighbourhood east of Gaza City and dashed by car to a relative's house about two kilometres away, thinking it would be safer.
For a while, it was. Then came a series of explosions. Concrete and debris hammered through the air. Hassan al-Jarou, aged 10, was struck on the head.
"I was in the house, with my uncles, my dad and my grandfather, and I saw stones flying," he said as nurses treated his injuries in Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital. "I don't know what happened after that."
Hassan's grandfather and father were injured as well. Neighbour Husam al-Shurafa, 26, helped to rush them to hospital. He said he had seen enough mayhem on the streets to persuade him to head back home and take his chances there. "I'd rather die with my family in my house," he said.
Like 1.5 million others in Gaza, Mr Shurafa was trapped inside the territory with nowhere to go. He said life had become increasingly intolerable in recent years....
The wards and trauma rooms of al-Shifa Hospital were packed with Gazans.
Many complained that ambulances were nowhere to be found and said they had risked further danger to get medical treatment. Generators kept electricity flowing, but occasionally they flickered, too, momentarily leaving the hospital in the dark after sunset.
The morgue also filled, as rescue workers laid bodies on wooden benches and tables. Grief-stricken relatives moved from corpse to corpse to see if they could identify missing family members.
Under one sheet in the morgue was a 17-year-old girl still wearing her black headscarf, identified by relatives as Jehad Ahmed.
They said the family had fled their home in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, running away from the sounds of artillery fire. But then they said they ran into shelling from another direction.
Jehad sustained a severe head wound and was taken to the hospital. When her mother arrived later, relatives didn't have the heart to tell her that the teenager had died.
Five children were killed in two separate Israeli strikes around Gaza City early yesterday. Three children were killed by a tank shell in Zeitun and two were killed in Shati by a naval strike, according to the head of Gaza medical emergency services Moawiya Hassanein.
Ahmed Mutair, 21, and his brothers ventured outside their house, north of Gaza City, on Sunday. He was shot in the chest by a sniper, according to his brothers. They screamed for an ambulance, but none came.