Palestinians wounded in Gaza desperate for Rafah crossing to reopen

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FILE PHOTO: Palestinians wounded in Israeli fire lie on beds as they receive treatment at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, May 14, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed/File Photo

By Ramadan Abed

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza (Reuters) – Ni’ma Ali Imad is desperate to get her wounded son Mohammed out of Gaza for the medical treatment that doctors say they cannot provide in the Palestinian enclave.

Five-year-old Mohammed lost his sight and suffered a head wound during Israeli shelling. But, like many other wounded Palestinians, he is stuck in a Gaza hospital waiting because the Rafah Crossing on the border with Egypt is closed.

Egypt blames the closure on Israeli military operations around Rafah. Israel, which seized control of the crossing last week, said on Tuesday it was up to Egypt to reopen it – remarks described by Cairo as “desperate attempts” to shift the blame.

The closure has not only left foreign aid piling up on the Egyptian side of the border as a humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens. It has also shut down a vital evacuation route for people in Gaza needing urgent medical care abroad.

Gaza’s medical system has virtually collapsed under Israel’s bombardment, witnesses say, and Palestinian doctors say they are not equipped to help Mohammed Imad regain his sight and treat his head wound.

“The doctors here did what they could, but we still need the official sides (authorities) to cooperate with us and open the border crossing, because this is a child, and we would want him to live like other children in the world,” Ni’ma Ali said at Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

“We hope that you will be able to open the Rafah border crossing for the humanitarian cases, so that they can receive treatment, and be provided with medication, so the boy can once again see with his eyes.”

Egypt is a mediator in indirect ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas, but its relationship with Israel has been strained by the more than seven-month-old war.

There is no sign of a breakthrough towards halting the war triggered by the Oct. 7 raid on Israel led by gunmen from the Islamist militant group Hamas.

Some 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage in the rampage, according to Israeli tallies. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and 75,000 others wounded in Gaza since Israel began its offensive, Gaza health authorities say.

FEELING ABANDONED

Among those at Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital hoping to be treated abroad is Abdul Rahim al-Ayoubi, who said he was hit in the leg, pelvis and hand by Israeli tank fire.

“Until now, I am suffering from the pain. I do not have any treatment,” he said. “My leg was amputated from my pelvis and I had ulcers in the hospital here, in my back, and everyone says that there is no treatment for me at all here.”

“We ask the Arab and foreign countries to just help us travel (abroad) so we can continue our treatment,” he said.

Like many other wounded Palestinians, Ahmad Abu Amro, who said he was critically wounded at a checkpoint in mid-February, feels abandoned

“No one is paying attention to us. Our only solution is for the border to open, and we can travel and get treatment. We are not asking for more than that,” he said at the Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital.

The hospital’s spokesman, Khalil al-Dakran, said reopening the border was vitally important.

“We reaffirm our appeal to the free world and international community to open the border and to send medical teams, medication, medical supplies and fuel,” he said.

 

(Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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