‘Collateral damage’


by Sunny
30th August, 2007 at 4:55 pm    

I realise that talking about Israel / Palestine here is like waving a red flag in front of a horde of bulls but this story is worth highlighting. Reuters AlertNet blogger Peter Apps writes about five-year old Palestinian girl Maria Amin.

Most of Maria’s family were wiped out when the car she was travelling in was caught in an Israeli missile attack on an Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip. Her grandmother, mother and older brother died. Not entirely unlike me, she broke her neck and damaged her spinal cord. Euphemistically speaking, they were all simply “collateral damage”.

Somehow, the Palestinians managed to keep Maria alive and on a ventilator long enough to get her to an Israeli hospital where they could look after her properly. However you look at it, that is an incredible achievement. She will be dependent on a ventilator for the rest of her life and will die if it is removed.

To their credit, the Israeli defence ministry covered her medical expenses – which must have been massive – and sponsored her father and surviving younger brother to live with her at the hospital. According to media reports, her father is undertaking most of her basic day-to-day care – which must be hard on him, but certainly saves money.

Apparently, Maria has now completed her rehabilitation programme – which is all that Israel says it will pay for. For her as for me, the brutal truth is that, barring a scientific breakthrough, she simply is not going to get better.

Unfortunately, the Defence Ministry wants to send her to a hospital on the West Bank. Her home on the Gaza Strip, now under control of the Islamist movement Hamas, is now under a virtual aid boycott from the outside world and is clearly no place for her. Maria’s father has appealed against the ministry order and Israel’s Supreme Court has said she cannot be transferred until a hearing is held next month.

Her current Israeli hospital says “she won’t be going anywhere” until her well-being is assured, effectively defying Israel’s government. They say the Palestinian rehabilitation centre of Abu Raya is simply unable to look after her if something goes wrong.

The defiance of the Israeli hospital is worth appreciating in sharp contrast to the military. But the main point here is about the lack of facilities in the developing world for disabled people that many of us take for granted. According to the WHO, “most people with spinal injuries in developing countries are dead in two years.”

Those who say Palestinians should be denied any aid until Hamas goes away would be well advised to think about the impact that has on local populations.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Middle East






7 Comments below   |  

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  1. Soso — on 30th August, 2007 at 5:39 pm  

    Perhaps Hamas could return those two soldiers, who were on Israeli soil and minding their own business, they kidnapped last summer. In exchange, Maria, along with her father and brother, could stay in Israel.

    Such a deal depends on how much Islamic Jihad et al hate Jews versus how much they love their own kids.

    And we all know the answer to that.

  2. ChrisC — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:01 pm  
  3. Natty — on 30th August, 2007 at 6:51 pm  

    And here we go as everyone blames the Palestinians for everything.

    Both sides have had poor leadership. In Hareetz this week there was an article by an Israeli on how they didn’t have the courage to make peace.

    It takes two to tango, so blaming one side or the other is lame. They are both to blame for the mess. Poor leadership on both sides.

    In this case the excuses made are lame and the hospital is right to stand its ground.

    Kick out the leaders and bring in people who can make peace.

  4. Leon — on 30th August, 2007 at 8:39 pm  

    Those who say Palestinians should be denied any aid until Hamas goes away would be well advised to think about the impact that has on local populations.

    Well said.

  5. Soso — on 31st August, 2007 at 12:16 am  

    An interesting aside with this story.

    Has anyone from oil-rich Saudi Arabia offered to help out? Not from what I can tell.

    Yet elements in S.A. enthusiastically and very publically raise funds to aid the grieving, berift families of murderous, suicide bombers.

    So my question is this: Does Allah’s mercy and compassion not extend beyond senseless acts of nihilist violence?

    Does it only flow forth, and then just to true believers, when non-Muslims are killed and maimed?

    Had this unfortunate girl been older, and had she been a suicide bomber who happened to survive an attack killing Jews, then dinars to doughnuts the Saudis would be crying a Tigris of tears and plying her with solid gold ventilators.

    The Israelis never meant to injure her or her family, have apologised for doing so, and have done as much as they can to help her.

    Perhaps a wealthy prince, like Michael Jackson’s friend, could now step up to the plate.

    How many ventilators is even one lamborghini worth?

  6. pounce — on 31st August, 2007 at 6:19 pm  

    Why is everybody giving Israel a way out by blaming the Pals? They did the crime, let them pay for Maria and her families time.
    Simple.
    Blaming Hamas (who I see as a racist bigoted little boys club) isn’t the answer.
    The answer is the welfare of this little girl and her family.

  7. Rumbold — on 31st August, 2007 at 10:27 pm  

    Unlikely to make Guardian front page:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/899609.html

    “A protest by Fatah supporters against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip turned violent Friday when Hamas men began forcefully dispersing the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators and reporters.”

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