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Kamal Odwan hospital is the main port of call for the bulk of emergency services, once a local clinic, it has now grown, concomitantly with the population of the north, now 350000, into a hospital. Since the bombing of an average of one in ten mosques in the Jabaliya area according to local Imams, Kamal Odwan is now also a prayer site, an open-air mosque. Rows of men kneel together daily in the car park, round the corner from the overflowing morgue; praying also takes place at the side of the lines of parked ambulances and in the little garden area in front of the reception and emergency room.
The emergency staff, the families and friends of new martyrs, all pray together in perhaps the last place of sanctuary in Jabaliya, knowing that as soon as they set foot outside, they’re fair game for snipers, surveillance drones, Apaches, Cobras, F16 and F15 fired missiles, shrapnel, flying chunks of house, glass, and nails that are shredding people here. White phosphorous too is reportedly being used, along with a white mist of nerve gas hanging in Jabaliya a few days ago and over Beit Hanoun, in the Zoumou street area. Today at least three casualties, all of them elderly women, were brought into Beit Hanoun hospital suffering from inhalation of this gas, which chokes people, tightening chests and nasal passages and rendering people dizzy and disorientated; we were all affected by it, despite being maybe half a kilometre away from the site of its release. As I finish writing this now, in the offices of Ramatan News, the same gas, nerve fraying, chest tightening, tear-inducing and confusing is seeping into the offices.
The director of public relations at Kamal Odwan, Moayad Al Masri, whose family now lives in the Fakhoura School refugee camp gives me the stats for the past week. Every day approximately 20 people are killed, by tank shelling, apache, F16, and surveillance plane missile strikes.
On 27 December, 14 people killed, 52 injured; On the 28 December, six killed, 22 injured; 29 December 15 killed, 102 injured; 30 December, two killed, 11 injured; 31 December, three killed, three injured; New Years Day, 17 killed, 67 injured; 2 January, six killed, 10 injured; 3 January, 13 killed, 43 injured; 4 January, 28 killed, 35 injured; 5 January, 15 killed, 98 injured; 6 January, 50 killed, 101 injured; 7 January, 17 killed, 33 injured; 8 January, 11 killed, 53 injured; 9 January, 15 killed and 63 injured; 10 January, 22 killed and 53 injured. And today, this morning, six people had been killed so far. Four of them children. Two sisters, Saher Ghabban 16 and Haowla Ghabban 14, and Fatima Mahrouf 16 and Haitham Mahrouf. Witnesses report that they were leaving their home at the UNRWA Beit Lahiya school, to go home to wash and make food. They were walking near strawberry fields in Sheyma when they were struck by a surveillance plane missile.
I go to meet a friend from Beit Hanoun at the hospital. It takes stopping five different taxi drivers before I finally get one who agrees to take me. Missiles have been falling throughout the afternoon ‘ceasefire’. Everyone has heard about cars and their passengers zapped in two by missiles from surveillance drones. We all engage in a kind of Russian roulette every time we move, knowing we might be the next unlucky ones.
In Beit Hanoun we hear about six families from the Abu Amsha House – 50 people – having to flee their four-story home after the IOF called to give them five minutes to leave or be bombed. As the families frantically gathered their belongings – mattresses, blankets, clothes, documents, photographs – and made their way down the stairs, an Israeli F16 war plane bombed them. 27 were injured, four of them seriously, including one with shrapnel in the spinal area.
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