‘We’re sitting on blankets on a cement floor’: The impossible conditions for children born into Gaza war

todayDecember 25, 2023 9

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‘We’re sitting on blankets on a cement floor’: The impossible conditions for children born into Gaza war

Imagine having not one, but two babies born in the middle of war.

Lina Hammad gave birth to twins in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

It should be a time of celebration, but the stress of keeping the infants, and two other children alive, is all-consuming.

The impact of war always hits the most vulnerable.

Speaking from a damp, cold room in Khan Younis, Lina explains she had a difficult birth and needed anaesthetic and medicine that the hospital didn’t have because of the war.

Lina Hammad says she was not given anaesthetic during birth

Lina Hammad says she was not given anaesthetic during birth of her twins

She says the conditions are impossible: “We are sitting on blankets on a cement floor. There are no vaccinations. We need nappies, milk and clothes.”

There are four children in the family, all of them are sick.

“It’s cold, the wind comes in and it’s hard for the children,” she says. “They have chest infections and diarrhoea.”

There’s a gnawing fear among Gaza‘s parents, how do they save their children from the war, hunger and disease that is now ravaging the Gaza Strip?

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‘Quiet and unprecedented’ in Bethlehem

The aid agency Save the Children says Gaza is now the world’s most dangerous place to be a child.

More children have died in this war than in all the world’s major conflicts combined over the last three years. It’s staggering.

Lina can’t even contact her own mother. Like all the enclave’s infrastructure, Gaza’s telecommunications system has broken down.

As for her children, Lina says: “They are still coughing, I swear they can’t sleep at night. I fear for them. Last night my son was suffocating.”

Quality of life has plummeted

While Gaza is in the grips of a man-made humanitarian catastrophe, in the other Palestinian territory – the occupied West Bank – tension is boiling.

Palestinians say Israeli arrests, raids and road closures across the West Bank is making life for those living under Israeli military occupation, go from bad to worse.

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Israel says its military action in the territory is targeted at armed fighters, Palestinian militant groups and rioters.

The UN reports that this has been the deadliest year on record for Palestinians across the West Bank, by miles.

According to the agency’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 457 Palestinians have been killed in the territory this year.

Thirty-five Israelis have also been killed in the West Bank.

In the folds of the hills and olive groves lies the village of Husan, with a population of 10,000 people. It is reeling from the impact of daily raids by the Israeli military.

Its residents tell Sky News that since the 7 October deadly rampage by Hamas, their quality of life has plummeted to a new low.

Sent by Nicole Johnston

Mahmoud Zeoul was killed during an Israeli raid

On Wednesday, 18-year-old Mahmoud Zeoul, was killed during an Israeli raid.

His family say he was shot dead by the Israeli military.

In a statement to Sky News the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said there had been a riot in the village and Palestinians had thrown explosives and stones. It says it’s investigating the death.

Sent by Nicole Johnston

Safaa Zeoul says the Israeli military raids the West Bank every day

But his mother, Safaa Zeoul, says: “The (Israeli) army raids the area every day. They occupy our land and it’s natural to resist them.

“We don’t have weapons but stones. They respond to stones with snipers. They are afraid of stones.”

When we visited the family, people from the local village came by to pay their respects. Local women told us they are afraid about their sons’ futures.

Tension is boiling in the West Bank

“What is going on in the West Bank is the reaction to what is happening in Gaza,” Ms Zeoul says.

“They (the IDF) shoot people indiscriminately.”

A short drive from Husan is the Christian city of Bethlehem. But there are no Christmas celebrations this year, it’s been cancelled.

Sent by Nicole Johnston

Daniella Dukmak is a resident in Bethlehem

With war raining down on Gaza, the West Bank’s Christian community is mourning their friends and family displaced and killed in the southern coastal enclave.

“In 25 years I’ve never witnessed such an incredibly sad Christmas,” Bethlehem resident, Daniella Dukmak, says.

“This Christmas, we can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on in Gaza.”

Written by: Newsroom

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