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