‘People are all but dead’, Gazan mother speaks of war’s horror

By AbdelHadi Ramahi and Alexander Cornwell

AL ARISH, Egypt (Reuters) – When an Israeli air strike hit her neighbourhood and destroyed her home, Faten Abu Khoseh ran into the street to desperately look for her youngest child who had been walking to the market.

Abu Khoseh, a 37-year-old widow, found her daughter, 10-year-old Qamar Shureihy, in the arms of young men. Qamar, badly wounded, had been pulled from underneath the rubble of a mosque in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Qamar was rushed by a car to a nearby hospital because there were no ambulances. Her mother said she underwent hours of surgery, partially amputating her left leg and fitting protruding metal rods to the child’s broken right leg.

“All they told me was ‘pray for her, she’s in a tough situation’,” Abu Khoseh recalled the hospital staff saying.

Abu Khoseh, who lost her husband in an accident before the war, said the war had been harder than any of the past conflicts she had lived through. She said Israeli air strikes were “targeting everywhere”, leaving people buried under rubble.

“People are all but dead, they are not alive. What can I say, the situation is indescribable,” she said

Due to the severity of her injuries Qamar, who was wounded about a month ago, was allowed to leave Gaza to receive medical care in Al Arish, in Egypt’s North Sinai.

Abu Khoseh spoke to Reuters as she waited to fly with Qamar on a United Arab Emirates government-chartered plane to Abu Dhabi, where the UAE will provide medical treatment.

Abu Khoseh, a mother-of-four, said her twin 16-year-old daughter and son and 18-year-old daughter were still in Gaza.

She has lost contact with her parents after an Israeli air strike hit their neighbourhood, and said she was in constant fear that her three children in Gaza would be killed.

“I am exhausted. I am psychologically exhausted,” Abu Khoseh said. “I can’t eat, I don’t care about anything. All I care about is the children.”

Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air and from land, imposed a siege and mounted a ground offensive in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that Israel says killed 1,200 people and saw 240 people taken hostage.

Gaza’s health authorities say more than 18,000 people have been killed by Israeli attacks, with more than 49,500 wounded.

Israel says it does its utmost to minimise civilian casualties but that Hamas combatants use built-up residential areas for cover, something the Islamist militant group denies.

“We just want to live like everyone else, that’s all we ask for,” Abu Khoseh said. “We don’t want much, just to live a dignified life without blood and without war. A good life for ourselves and our children. That’s all we want.”

(Reporting by Abdelhadi Ramahi and Alexander Cornwell, writing by Alexander Cornwell, Editing by Alex Richardson)