With the sunrise this morning, it was time to leave Gaza. I really struggled with this decision… Struggled with overwhelming feeling of guilt, as I was going through the looong wired corridor to get out of the largest open-air prison in the world leaving behind more than 1.5 million fellow Palestinians, some are dear friends, living in circumstances that no human should be subjected to.
I had to leave for my two boys Omar (14) and Hamzah (11). I promised Hamzah to be back for his birthday. I had to leave so that we can start working on what Gaza’s hospitals need to function adequately again and survive the next round of Israeli aggression. According to the Ministry of Health Operation room report, as of Aug 21st, 10 hospitals and 7 Primary Health Care clinics were damaged, 5 hospitals and 44 primary health clinics were closed, 16 ambulances were damaged, and 83 health personnel injured, 23 health personnel died. Add to that patients who were killed by the Israeli strikes while in their hospital beds!! For example the attack on Al-Aqsa Hospital led to the death of 5 patients, a hospital administrator, the injury of 70 people including 1 doctor and 2 paramedics and the destruction of the surgical department and the intensive care unit. In addition to civilians, Israel targeted the infrastructure, including the health care system, in this inhumane aggression on Gaza. Health care centers there were inadequately equipped to serve the population even before this round of aggression started. Now the situation is more critical. I visited most of the affected hospitals and have a clear idea of some of the things that we can all work on to improve the situation and support the Palestinians in Gaza.
The Palestinians in Gaza are fighting this war on behalf of every Palestinian and every human being who believes in freedom, dignity and equality for all. It is crucial that they know we are here, with them in this fight. We are the voice that tells their narrative to the world. Thank you for my dear friends Merwad and Nadine who realized that am not a social media wiz so they took the lead and created my blog and for Fida who was behind my interview with Electronic Intifada (http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/isolate-israel-every-level-urges-palestinian-canadian-physician-gaza). Many thanks for those who published my emails on Facebook. The message from the Palestinians in Gaza is clear; they are dying to defend their humanity and their right for a life with freedom, dignity and equality, if not for us, then for our children and many generations to come.
Finally, thank you Tarek for connecting me with Physicians for Human Rights to get my entry permit; thank you all for reading my emails and for your daily messages of support and encouragement. They certainly kept me going to accomplish what I came to Gaza for.
Let the work begin!