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Fear grips Gaza hospital bombarded repeatedly by Israel
Published Wednesday 16/07/2014 (updated) 17/07/2014 15:10
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A wounded Palestinian man waits in the corridor of the Al-Wafa
rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City on July 16, 2014 (AFP Thomas Coex)
SHEJAIYA, Gaza Strip (AFP) -- At Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City, a handful of doctors and nurses hover over paralyzed patients, wondering how to protect them from more air strikes as threatened by Israel.

The patients lie mostly inert in beds lined up in the hospital's reception, where staff moved them after an Israeli rocket crashed into the fourth floor.

The staff have appealed to international agencies for protection, and say the hospital is known to the Israeli army.

But it was hit again on Tuesday night.

Shortly afterwards, the Israeli army contacted the hospital three times, saying everyone should be evacuated by morning as the air force was planning to intensify its air strikes.

Director Basman Alashi explained that the 14 patients in the facility, many of them paralyzed or in a coma, are in no position to be moved.

And even if they were, he said, there is no place to take them.

"There is no place safe in Gaza! If a hospital is not safe, where is?

"We cannot leave our patients, they are helpless. They cannot move, they cannot walk, they cannot eat, they cannot even scratch their heads by themselves," he said.

Even as he spoke, the sound of shelling rattled the hospital windows.

'Hospital shaking'

More than 200 people have been killed in Gaza since the latest confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants erupted in the early hours of July 8.

After an Egyptian truce effort failed to get off the ground on Tuesday, there appears to be no end in sight.

Mercifully, said staff doctor Hassan Sarsur, many of the patients are unconscious and unaware of what is happening.

But for others, the situation is terrifying.

"Several of our female patients are paralyzed but conscious, and during the night they were crying with fear and clutching our hands," Sarsur said.

Aya Abdeen, one of eight women in the facility, is paralyzed from the waist down because of a tumor in her spinal cord.

"Yesterday, when they said that we have to evacuate and with all the shelling, of course I was afraid," she told AFP.

"There was shelling all around and the hospital was shaking. And I am as you see, I can't move," she said.

"We are sick people, in a hospital!"

Karam Shublaq suffered a gunshot wound to his spinal cord in 2006 and is also paralyzed from the waist down.

He is being treated for pressure sores and is fitted with a colostomy bag.

"We wake up to shelling and we go to sleep to shelling," he said.

"We can't even move and they hit the fourth floor of the building several times, so they moved us down here."

To care for the patients, the staff are working 24-hour shifts, battling fatigue but also fear.

"We are human beings, of course we are scared," said Sarsur.

"We don't know what to do to protect the patients. We'd already evacuated the fourth floor and now we've evacuated all the floors except the reception."

Several patients have been sent back to their families, but others require medical care that relatives can't provide.

Watching over brother

Sixteen-year-old Nur Okasha has been sleeping at the hospital for a week to keep watch over his 13-year-old brother Mohammed who has been in a coma for several months after nearly drowning.

He lies motionless on the bed, his eyes half open as Nur flicks away flies.

"We wanted to take him home, but the tube in his trachea requires a suction machine, and we don't always have electricity at home," the teenager explained.

He keeps vigil at Mohammed's side, putting in his eyedrops and talking to him.

"I want to make him feel like someone is always here. I tell him that his friends miss him. I talk to him about anything except the war," he said.

Doctors at the hospital have reached out to international agencies in a bid to secure Israeli assurances that the facility won't be hit again.

And a group of foreign activists are staying at the hospital in the hope that their presence might deter further attacks.

"The Israelis told the (international) agencies that the hospital was not the target, only the area around it. But they have already hit us directly," Sarsur said.

"We are helpless, the war comes to us and there is nothing we can do to stop it."
1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
16/07/2014 23:00
Sounds like the perfect location chosen by Hamas and PIJ for them to launch rockets from. We all know that Hamas instructed residents to stay put so they could die, and they are supposed to protect the houses of Hamas millionaires. Then again, this whole war could stop in 10 minutes if Hamas and PIJ announced they will stop shooting rockets at Israeli civilians. Like, you know, it really is a war crime and Israel really is protected by international law when they shoot back. Hamas is guilty.

2 ) Ben Barka / Tanzania
17/07/2014 00:20
Cohen - Wow really? Israel not guilty? Then why is Israel not ratifying the Geneva 1949 and join the ICC? Because they are scared of being dragged to court to stand trial for war crime and crime against humanity. Why did they reject the Gladstone Judiciary Commission report?

3 ) Maureen / Australia
17/07/2014 00:27
#1 Brian Cohen Crawl back to your hasbara rat hole! And BTW, you should be protesting to your Netanyahu military junta for usurping the murder of three young Jewish 'settlers' as provocation for rocket fire from Gaza!

4 ) Fritz / USA
17/07/2014 07:12
There must have been a good reason for Israel to target the hospital. Maybe Hamas is storing rockets there. If not, then shame on Israel.

5 ) Ashraf / USA
17/07/2014 08:12
Brian reality can be brutal when it hits. Are all Israelis living your dream? Forget that the Gazans are mostly descendants of refugees your people kicked out of their lands and that their rockets are landing on what used to be their own property. & forget that Gaza is the largest open prison in the world. If the "moral" Israeli army is killing mostly civilians to get at Hamas, Is it worth it? Is it legal? On the other hand aren't most of you reserves in the army & therefore legitimate target

6 ) Charlie A. / Sweden/Gaza
17/07/2014 08:15
Dear Brian, I?m one of them staying at the hospital as a human shield. I?m free to walk around everywhere here and can see and hear Everything, and I can tell you; none of the patients here can be consider as a threath for the security of the state of Israel, their Citizens or civilians. The grenades we found at the floor after the latest attack is made to break walls, so the hospital was deliberated targeted alright. And you are talking about war crimes, dear Brian.

7 ) Catman / USA
17/07/2014 12:57
Let's see how the hasbara trolls 'doll' up the brutal, cold-blooded murder of those four kids playing on the beach, in front of a hotel filled with reporters who are writing about that tragedy.

8 ) Illy / UK
17/07/2014 21:33
Israhell is showing that the Nazi's are not dead, they live as Israelis. An illegal state born out of terrorism (most Israelis forget this) and kept alive by evil Zionists.

9 ) faradnaz / Britain
17/07/2014 22:07
All of these attacks in Gaza are a plan and excuses to take over the land. Even a blind can see what israels are doing they want to maximise civilians casualties and hit them hard from are but ground invision is to kill all palestinian left.

10 ) Ilhaam Manuel / RSA
17/07/2014 22:25
Israel are cowards they killing civilians and our youth, and as for protecting themselves why is it no Israelis has been killed? Its not a religion issue it's a humanitarian issue, why block the hole of Gaza? The civilians already has nothing but you hold them hostage within there own country to die, cowards, cowards I tell you. Why strike people that can't defend themselves? But just remember God is above all

11 ) salman / india
18/07/2014 04:20
Shame on u cohen..everyone knows whoes guilty

12 ) Uncle Sufa / USA
20/07/2014 17:26
As Golda Meir, the former prime minister of Israel, once said to a group of Arab leaders, “We can forgive you for killing our children. We can never forgive you for forcing us to kill your children.”

13 ) Outlier / USA
21/07/2014 20:26
11., Salman, everyone also knows who escalated this into fighting, and it was not Israel. Hamas thus owns the consequences of all that follows.
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