Marc Lourdes reporting from Gaza
Three-year-old Sayed Mansour Abou Warda is one of the many children suffering from the white phosphorus attacks. (Inset) Sabah Abou Halimah, a burn victim who also lost her husband and children.
MORE than a week after the ceasefire, the victims of white phosphorus attacks were still writhing in pain and agony.
One of them is 16-year-old Samin El-Manayah. While most girls her age elsewhere in the world are worrying about boys, acne and exams, Samin has to deal with an excruciating pain after being doused in white phosphorus, as well as the knowledge that the long-term effects are going to be even worse.
The first white phosphorus victim to be admitted into the hospital's burn unit, Samin is still too traumatised to talk about her experience. Even the presence of her mother and baby sister next to her bed fails to perk her up.
Worse still is that Samin, whose lower body has been burnt, rejects attempts by doctors to give her medical treatment, due to her trauma. She just lies in bed, her face coated in a sheen of sweat as she tries to fight off the pain.
Another victim is Sabah Abou Halimah from the village of Beit Lahiya outside Gaza. The 45-year-old mother of 10 lost three of her sons and her only daughter, aged between 14 and 3 months, to white phosphorus burns in an attack on Jan 4. Her husband was also killed in the incident.
She sustained severe burns on the hands, legs, neck and back. More than three weeks after the incident, the wounds are still oozing with puss, bloody and raw.
Next to Sabah lies 53-year-old Saadiah Azam, also wounded by the same chemical. A rocket, laced with white phosphorus had fired into her home and burnt both her hands. While the burns on the right hand only took off her skin, her left hand was burnt to the bone.
Several skin grafts have alleviated the injuries on her right hand, but her left one is still swathed in bandages weeks after the wounds were sustained. Staff at the hospital are worried about her condition and that of others who were brought in with similar injuries.
"We are giving them whatever medicine we can, but it's not enough. Until today, there is no medicine available to treat white phosphorus wounds and the only thing we can do is give them treatment for normal burns," said staff nurse Sharif Akhtar. "This is the first time we are seeing anything like this."