Messages from Gaza Now October 2023 – 22nd October 2023

Hossam Madhoun in Gaza

22nd October 2023

After a terrifying and dreadful night of bombardment and explosions all around us, never knowing where or when they could hit us, I had to focus on my mother.

My 83 year old bedridden mother has a 12 centimeter tear inside her stomach. She takes Nexium granules twice a day before eating, to protect her stomach from itself. It doesn’t always work. Once every 2-3 months she starts to have severe pain and vomiting, continuous, painful. When it happens she stops eating anything, she stops drinking anything, even water,  because anything that enters her stomach is immediately thrown out with pain. Sometimes it stops by itself in two to three days, sometimes it gets worse when her oesophagus herniates due to the vomiting and starts to bleed inside her stomach, then she vomits dark brown liquid, this is internal bleeding. This is a red light to take her to hospital. From experience I know the process, they give her Nexium powder mixed with saline into her vein.

She must go to the hospital!

What hospital? Which one? One of those which have been completely destroyed? One of those which are receiving hundreds of injured all the time? Who is going to have time for an old lady with a stomach problem while there are hundreds in need of life-saving interventions?

I decided to go to the market and UNRWA Primary Health Care Unit to look for the items I need in order to do the procedure here at home. Powdered Nexium, saline, cannula, syringe, alcohol and dressing.

Walking from home to the market, traces of last night’s bombing on both sides of the street, houses and buildings completely damaged, destroyed, above the heads of residents. No prior warning. Absolute massacre.

Passing by an olive orchard, poor olives, it is the cultivating season, no one will cultivate the olives this year, olives will fall on the ground, dry and rotten, olive trees will dry and all the branches will fall and be scattered by the autumn wind, birds and doves will not find olive branches to build their nests for future generations. 

Bombing very nearby, behind the olive orchard. Felt the bombing, the sound is very loud, a wave of hot wind passes over my body, moves me from my place. I stop and get close to the fence of the orchard. After a few minutes I hear screaming, people crying and shouting. I move fast, past the orchard and on the right side of a narrow street. At the end of the street, a house bombed, people pulling out bodies form under the rubble, a small car passes by me very fast, the driver is hooting the horn of the car, passing by me I saw, for a single moment a woman in the back seat holding an injured child, a girl maybe 7 or 9 years old, it was very fast, could not know what type of injury or the exact age of the girl. But I saw blood and dust all over her body.

It is too much, I’ve had enough, I can’t continue anymore, 55 years full of violence, blood, death, agony displacement, poverty, sadness. helplessness, despair, I can’t take it anymore, I have no days left in me for such a situation, no more, I want to give up, I mean it, I am really ready to leave.

In times like these days, in war times like these, in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2021, 2022, 2023, when my daughter Salma said she couldn’t take it any more I told her to listen to the Peter Gabriel song, ‘Don’t give up, don’t give up because you know you can’.

Peter Gabriel helped me a lot before, he doesn’t help me now, sorry Peter, I can’t handle it any more.

There is my mother, there is my daughter, there are my sisters and brothers who all believe I can, who all believe I should be there for them.

I continue walking toward the market, could not stop my tears, I wanted to shout, to scream, to curse. I wanted a hug, I really need a hug.

Arriving at the UNRWA Primary Health Care Unit where I am volunteering with Humanity and Inclusion, I saw a doctor, I approached him explaining my mother’s situation and needs.

 ‘Sorry, there is no Nexium in the pharmacy, no cannulas. It’s all been distributed to the shelters for caring for the injured who were prematurely discharged from hospital to free up places for the more recently injured. But I can get you the saline.

‘Thanks, Doctor’

I took the saline and go out to look for what I need in the pharmacies, arriving at the heart of the market. Oh my God, what a terrible image, a huge building completely destroyed, at least 12 other buildings around, beside, behind and in front are damaged. Very ugly, gloomy, frightening image. Since the start of the war on Gaza up to yesterday, 42% of Gaza Strip housing units, 146,756 units, destroyed or damaged. Is there any more clear proof of genocide?

Walking from pharmacy to pharmacy, from street to street, from Nuseirat Camp to Bureij Camp on the other side of Salahaddeen Street. After more than three hours walking and visiting 17 pharmacies and walking 13 kilometers as shown by the step-count app on my mobile. Finally, I found everything I need for my mother. While I was walking back home, my mother suffered this ugly pain. My parents-in-law knew a neighbour who is a nurse, they called her and she did not hesitate to come. She did the necessary for my mother, it was 13.35 when she finished, Since then, my mother is asleep.

I need to sleep.