Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To Gaza With Love - Part 2

by Rose Crockett Davis

"You people come and stare at us and you say you are going to help, and you do nothing," a young Palestinian man was heard saying in Arabic to me and others in my group. His eyes were sad and determined and he spoke with passion and conviction. His right arm had been amputated from a wound sustained in the recent attack on The Gaza Strip by Israeli Military Forces from Dec 27, 2008 to Jan 18, 2009. I noticed him as my delegation of international peace activists filed into a clinic at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City lined with young men sitting in chairs. Each one of them had been severely injured during the attacks. They had been waiting for us.

The young man rose from his chair and with our cameras rolling, continued, " I am a man. But I never would have taken a wife if I had known I was going to be like this. I would never have had children. I cannot work to support my family. This breaks my heart. My children sometimes make fun of my arm, and sometimes they act as if they are afraid of me, as if I am a monster. But what is the worst is that I cannot hug my little child." He told us to look around the room at all the amputees and see that what they all needed were prosthetic arms and legs. He pointed out his friend who was missing a leg, " and he would love most of all to be able to protect his child from running out into the street, but he cannot." He asked us to please help them get what they need so they can be whole again.

During my visit in Gaza I visited its one speciality rehabilitation hospital, Al-Wafa Hospital near the northern border. Surrounded with palm trees bending in the breeze, it is also feeling the stress and strain from the damage sustained in the attacks. We toured the building, carefully walking up stairwells and along corridors littered with concrete and tile fragments and broken glass. Sunlight gleams through gaping holes of the outer walls, and through the twisted metal window frames. This state of the art new building contains Gaza’s only hydrotherapy pool. This hospital which was almost at the point of completion, now bullet ridden and bombed, has never been used. It was due to be opened just days after Israel launched its operation.
There is one shop in The Gaza Strip that makes prosthetic limbs. While in the shop, among the finished products, I see small artificial arms with hooks at the ends for the children who have lost their own. The shop has orders for more than 250 prostheses. But there is a problem; there always is a problem. There are some 1,000 different components to the manufacturing of these limbs, which are imported from Germany. The difficulty is in keeping all of these components in stock. Some shelves are completely empty, like the one for R26, an average-sized man’s foot. The shop’s manager, Hazim Shawwa, said that "even if you are short one screw for the foot, you can’t continue making the prosthesis."

The United States has state- of- the- art artificial arms which can move electronically through brain waves. The young man in the clinic could use one of these arms. But for one of these arms to work, a chip would have to be surgically implanted into his brain, and there is no brain surgeons in Gaza trained to perform such an operation. So he waits.

Everyone is Gaza waits. They wait for the siege to end. They wait for the blockade to end. They wait for the occupation of their air and water space to end. They wait.
Please help raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinians and the inhumanity with which they are being subjected. Please write President Obama and Congress, asking them to place sanctions against Israel, and boycott the sale of their products. Please push for the boycott of the sale of American made products that help in the war effort against the Palestinians. Maybe we can help end their waiting.

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