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Qatar is treating some of the Palestinians wounded in Gaza 

June 13, 2024 at 1:00 pm

A Palestinian man runs next to an ambulance driving to pick up the injured after an Israeli raid near Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, on 8 June 2024 [SAEED JARAS/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images]

Shahed Al-Kotati, one of a number of Palestinians wounded in Israel’s war in Gaza who are receiving medical care in Qatar, hopes that by next year, she’ll be able to walk on her own using a prosthetic limb. Al-Kotati’s home in Gaza was bombed in October. She and her husband fell to the street from the second floor. Later, she was forced out of Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital when Israeli forces ordered its evacuation. No ambulance was available.

“They [the Israeli soldiers] forced us to go by wheelchair,” the 23-year-old told Reuters from the safety of a Doha hospital. “I hope they’ll attach the prosthetic limb so that I can let go of the walker and all these things and walk on my own again, God willing.”

Al-Kotati, whose left leg was amputated above the knee, is one of the many Palestinians who have lost a limb after Israeli air strikes or shelling in Gaza. At Doha’s Hamad General Hospital, the staff help her to move around with a walker. The best thing, she says, is that they support her psychologically.

Many Palestinians, including children, have had limbs amputated because of the severity of their wounds during the Israeli offensive, which Israel says is intended to eliminate Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement, and secure the release of the hostages it holds in Gaza.

In December last year, Qatar’s emir launched an initiative to take 1,500 wounded Palestinians from Gaza to Qatar for treatment. So far, around 500 have arrived.

“This story of our patients starts in Gaza. The victims — most of them — have been victims of bombings and other military activities,” said Sandro Rizoli, Medical Trauma Director at Hamad General Hospital.

The latest Israeli war started on 7 October when Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, crossed the border in an incursion during which 1,200 Israelis were killed, many by Israel Defence Forces tanks and helicopters, according to local media. The resistance movement took around 250 people back to Gaza as hostages. The enclave is one of the most crowded places on earth.

Israel’s subsequent offensive has not only killed at least 38,000 Palestinians — mainly children and women — but also created a humanitarian crisis with shortages of food, fuel and medicine as well as water in a territory whose housing and civilian infrastructure is now little more than rubble.

By January, the UN estimated that more than 1,000 Palestinian children had lost one or both legs in the Israeli bombardments. Gaza’s main prosthetic limb centre, a Qatari-funded hospital in Gaza City, was shuttered in the early months of the war after an Israeli strike, explained the health authorities in the enclave.

Wafaa Abou Samaan, 27, another Palestinian being treated in Qatar, was eight months pregnant when her house was struck by an Israeli missile. “My husband was martyred,” she said. “My father-in-law as well. Two of my daughters were injured.” One of her daughters is also receiving treatment in Qatar. The other injured daughter remains in Gaza.

Abou Samaan lost her right leg below the knee and her lower left arm was amputated. Her baby was delivered safely in Egypt in December, before they were flown to Qatar. “We have no one left, we don’t have a home, nothing,” she pointed out. “We are sitting here, but our minds and hearts are there [in Gaza] with them.”

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