• Gaza

  • Friday, June 28, 2024 at 6:22 AM
    Last Update : Monday, July 1, 2024 at 4:52 AM

A Mix of Hope and Pain: Children Leave Gaza for Cancer Treatment

(AWP) - Both Kamla Abu Kwaik and her five-year-old son were in tears as she hugged him tightly, bidding him farewell at the Kerem Shalom crossing before he left the Gaza Strip alone to receive cancer treatment abroad.

He clung to her as they cried, while she held on to the hope that he’d return one day having recovered from the disease. He was not able to get cancer treatment in the war-torn Strip, where the medical sector collapsed after nine months of continuous Israeli bombardment.

“My heart aches... I mean, he is already ill while he is with me unable to move, so how can I leave him when he is only five years old?” Abu Kwaik asked AWP at the door of the bus taking her son away for treatment.

She doesn’t even know where her ill son will be treated, which only compounds the pain of separation.

She said, “I don’t know where he is going... to which hospital? We don’t know. They told us to get on the bus and that's it… into the unknown. We don't know anything but I put my trust in God.”

Her son is one of 21 young cancer patients for whom the World Health Organization facilitated passage through Israeli checkpoints to reach the medical complex through the Kerem Shalom crossing, allowing them to leave the Gaza Strip for further treatment abroad.

The children showed signs of extreme exhaustion and fatigue, their serious health complications exacerbated by the lack of vital treatment since the outbreak of the Israeli war last October 7.

Samira al-Sayed is a Palestinian mother of an ill child who, unlike Abu Kwaik, was allowed to accompany her daughter on her treatment journey, along with her other children.

Al-Sayed says that her attempts to facilitate her daughter’s travel permission succeeded after many struggles and much uncertainty.

She said, while boarding the bus with her daughter, “Thank God, of course, that we were able to arrange travel for her. Through the organization, we were able to go from north [of the Gaza Strip] to the south. After they followed up on her condition, we were able to arrange travel after a long period. Thank God, today we will go out and travel, and my daughter will receive her treatment abroad. God willing, may He make it easy for her.”

Al-Sayed added, “It was a difficult ordeal in the north. There was no treatment at all in the north and malnutrition exacerbated her health condition. After a struggle, we were able to travel. Praise be to God.”

Data from the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza revealed that only around 4,900 patients out of 25,000 who have requested treatment abroad have left the Strip during the past period, while the closure of Israeli border crossings prevents the travel of the remaining patients.

Head of the Pediatric Department at the Nasser Medical Complex, Dr Ahmed Al-Farra, called for urgent solutions for the health sector crises in Gaza Strip, which he described as complicated.