Traumatized, Rafah Wounded Narrate the Horrors of Israeli Strikes

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By Mohammad Najim

JENIN, August 16, 2014 (WAFA) –  Bader Shaer, a 16-year-old from the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, laid down in his hospital bed in the West Bank city of Jenin bewildered as he stared into the ceiling, refusing to stutter not even one word.

Memories of the day missiles fired by Israeli jets hit his family house and neighborhood were so traumatic that his doctors advised reporters and visitors not to talk to him because that would open up many wounds more serious than his bodily injuries.

It was Friday, August 1, when Israeli jets mercilessly bombarded Rafah after Palestinian resistance fighters attacked an advancing Israeli army infantry unit east of Rafah, killing several of its members and reportedly abducting one of the soldiers.

Dozens of Palestinian civilians, mainly children and women, were killed and over 100 were wounded, most of them seriously.

The Israeli vengeful act, which happened shortly before a 72-hour ceasefire was supposed to take effect, was described as a barbaric massacre, a genocide and a war crime by all standards.

His gaunt legs laid on the bed and his emaciated, skeleton-like body shrinking backward, Shaer’s black eyes stared forward incessantly. He is no longer able to whimper a sentence, not even a word and not because of speechlessness but because “he is now in a big trauma,” said Bahaa Yahiya, an orthopedic surgeon at Razi hospital in Jenin, where Shaer was brought for medical treatment.

“It is not about the F16 missiles that fell near him tossing him about 60 meters in the air; it is not about his house that was bombed and destroyed by the Israeli airstrikes; it is not about his lacerated, crushed pelvis; nor is it about the so many fragments from the missiles seeded deep into his abdomen thus leading us to remove his spleen; it is rather the loss of his father and the injury of all his family members that are the real cause for his trauma,” says Yahiya describing Shaer’s case.

“Whenever a visitor talks to him, he agonizes and his psychological state worsens,’ he added. ‘This is why we tell visitors not to talk to him or ask him about his ordeal to avoid bringing back painful memories.”

Shaer has lost his father and siblings and most of his neighbors and friends in the bombardment, according to his uncle who has accompanied him to Jenin. Though not himself injured in the bombardment, the uncle is also living the horrors of that day and the grief over the loss of his brother and the injury of his nephew, as well as over the so many civilian casualties of the Israeli onslaught on his neighborhood.

Shaer is being prepared to undergo several surgeries, one of them to fix his right thigh bone smashed by the airstrike.

Lying in another hospital bed near Shaer is Raed Edheni, a 24-year-old resident of Shawka neighborhood in Rafah. He was also transferred from Gaza for medical treatment at Razi hospital.

Edheni was buried under the rubble of his house destroyed in the Israeli shelling. When he was pulled out, he was still alive but had lost his left arm and suffering other serious injuries.

Edheni’s wounds do not appear to be as bad as that of Shaer, but the trauma was as bad. He was able to tell his story in few words.

“It was early morning on Friday when we heard of a truce and attempted to make it back home from an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) school where we had been seeking shelter fleeing the barbarous massacres,” murmured Edheni.

“Once we arrived home, heavy bombing pounded our house and the nearby houses. I passed out and when I woke up I found myself at Abu Yousef Najjar hospital in Rafah,” he said, speaking with difficulty.

“Entire families, civilians and innocent people have been killed in Rafah,’ he said. ‘The survivors are now left to wail over the loss of their beloved ones.”

Shaer and Edheni were only two among more than 10,000 Palestinians injured in the month-long Israeli war on Gaza started on July 7.

Unable to cope with the seriousness of most of the injuries, some of the wounded were transferred to hospitals in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey for treatment. Many have died of their wounds, but many more are still receiving treatment.

Almost 2000 people, most of them civilians and mainly children and women were killed and more than 40,000 homes were destroyed either totally or partially. An estimated 500,000 people have become homeless or left their homes seeking shelter in safer places.

 

Source: WAFA