Hospital – MESSAGES FROM GAZA NOW – October 2023 – February 2024


In Rafah, there are no real hospitals, only four centres which are called hospitals, but are much less than a real hospital, a bit more like a primary health care centre. One of them is a maternity unit only.

Last night my mother got very sick again, with uncontrolled vomiting causing internal bleeding. It’s a nonstop vomit mixed with blood, comes out dark, the colour of coffee, with pain. It started at 6:25 in the evening, there was nothing to do, it was dark, fear, movement is very risky. No sleep at all, waiting for daylight. At 6:25 the next morning, I went to the nurse, the neighbour, who helped give my mother the medication through her veins. It’s happened twice since I arrived in Rafah, this is the third time. Normally as soon as she gets the medication, the vomiting stops.

I did not find the nurse at home, he is on a night shift at the hospital and he won’t be back before 10 am. I am in a strange city and I don’t know enough. But I know Abu Khaled Abdelal, I approached him, asking for a doctor or a nurse to help my mother. Immediately he called a friend, an old, experienced nurse, Abu Wasfi. In less than 15 minutes he was here, he did what should be done, he gave her the medicine in her vein. The vomiting continued; I thought it would take some time until it worked but it did not work this time. It was now 11 am, and she was still vomiting and bleeding. No choice, I must take her to the hospital. The hospital was not the first choice because we all know that due to the huge demand on hospitals, the huge number of injured people, and the collapse of the health system, doctors are obliged to prioritise to whom they give service. An 83-year-old woman will not be a priority.

I went to the hospital, entered the emergency room. It is so difficult to explain what it looks like. The emergency room is a hall of around 14 x 6 meters with 20 hospital beds. Hundreds of people in the place, all beds are occupied, many patients are on the ground, doctors and nurses are moving everywhere treating injured people and sick people wherever they are, on beds, on the ground, in the corridor. The floor is very dirty, needles, cotton balls and bandages full of blood, dirt, spilt water, making the place dirtier. All the while there are two workers cleaning, doing their best to collect whatever they can, yet the place is a mess. 

The noise is a mix of cries of pain, shouts of people calling doctors to take care of their beloved ones, talks, chats, electronic sounds of medical machines. After more than 30 minutes, I was finally able to talk to a doctor about my mother. She was in her wheelchair, and he walked with me while I was explaining her situation and what we gave her. He looked at her, and then approached a nurse asking her to take some blood from my mother for CBC and chemistry tests. Then he left, the nurse was busy with other patients and injured people, she came back after 20 minutes, checked my mother’s blood pressure, and she inserted the cannula in her vein, took the blood sample and asked us to take it to the lab. The doctor came back 20 minutes later, he checked my mother’s chest, and he asked the nurse to give my mother some medication through a vein. 

After 2 hours, the blood test results came back, there is inflammation in her blood, we need a specialised doctor to decide the right medicine. They ask us to wait until he comes; they said he will be there in 10 minutes. One and a half hours passed, and no one showed up. I kept asking about the doctor who was supposed to check on my mother, but no one had any answer, they don’t know, maybe he is in another section, maybe he left. I searched for him in all the hospital sections but could not find him. All this time my mother was becoming weaker and more tired. She wanted to leave, she could not stay in the wheelchair anymore, it was so painful after more than 3 hours.

Finally, we decided to leave. My mother hadn’t vomited for an hour and a half, so we hoped for the best and decided to look for a private doctor tomorrow.

While I was there at the hospital, three injured people died; two were severely injured, and the third had internal bleeding, while the outside of his body was not hurt.

It is 9:32 pm, I am writing this piece and my mother is on her bed again vomiting and barely able to breathe.