By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2902

‘I barely escaped attack on al-Awda hospital’ says Palestinian mother

There are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, but fewer and fewer places for them to go
Issue 2902
a crowd shot of a Palestine demo illustrating an article about the Israeli attack on al-Awda hospital

Protesters rage against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians on the streets of London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Only a day after Ibitsam brought her new baby home, the Israeli state attacked the al-Awda hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza, where she had just given birth. 

“At dawn on Monday the al-Awda hospital, the place where I had my baby, was hit by bombs,” she told Socialist Worker.  

“Al-Awda hospital is the only place that is equipped for deliveries in the middle area of Gaza. All acquaintances and friends called me to congratulate me and tell me how fortunate I was to have given birth a day before the incident of the bombs.”

According to Palestinian media, the Israeli army fired a shell at the first floor of the hospital and another one of its buildings. There were reports that the Israelis were targeting the hospital’s solar panels, which help keep the generators running. 

There are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, according to the United Nations. But Israel’s attacks on hospitals have meant there are fewer and fewer places for them to go to get adequate care. 

Ibitsam said in March that she was “terrified to die” in childbirth as most of the hospitals were out of order, and doctors had said she would be faced with complications at birth. She explained that her labour was hard, but the doctors were able to save her and her baby Salma at the last minute. 

Other women in Gaza won’t survive birth because they cannot get the care they need. Currently, there are only three hospitals in Gaza that are functioning enough to provide any maternity care. 

These are al-Sahaba hospital in northern Gaza, al-Awda and al-Emiriti hospital in Rafah. Other hospitals have been so overwhelmed with trauma patients that they have stopped providing any maternity care. 

United Nations Population Fund representative Dominic Allen said that the Israeli state has been destroying the infrastructure needed by pregnant women. “I visited ten hospitals in Gaza, focusing on maternal health,” he said. 

“Some are in rubble. Some hospitals are clinging to life while they are a lifeline for pregnant women in Gaza. We visited the Nasser hospital, and what I saw broke my heart.

“Medical equipment was purposefully broken and there were ultrasounds with cables that had been cut. There were medical screens smashed. It was purposeful wanton destruction.” 

He added that he also visited the al-Khair hospital —which was a specialist maternal health facility. Allen explained that “there wasn’t any piece of working medical equipment” in the hospital. 

“The birth rooms stand silent,” he said. “They should be a place of giving life, and they just have an eerie sense of death.”

And the Israeli state is working to stop aid organisations from delivering medical equipment to hospitals. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). He said that “on 20 April, WHO and partners could only partially complete their mission to Kamal Adwan hospital and al-Awda hospitals due to severe delays at checkpoints and ongoing hostilities”. 

He added that WHO could not reach Kamal Adwan hospital for the second time and wasn’t about to get to al-Awda to help restore services. 

The Israeli state targeting hospitals is underlines the need to keep mobilising on the streets against the genocide—and the British state arming it.

Activists’ diary 

Sat 27 April: National demonstration, Stop Arming Israel, Ceasefire Now, assemble 12 noon, Parliament Square, London, for a march to Hyde Park. 

Wed 1 May: May Day workplace action for Palestine

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