The silent trauma of war

The scars of endless war in the Gaza Strip and the brave doctors who try and repair the damage:

On a Saturday morning in Gaza City, the Artificial Limb and Polio Center (ALPC) is filled with people waiting to see the director, Dr. Hazem al-Shawwa.

Following consultation with him and with the specialist in prosthetics and orthotics rehabilitation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), many will begin the long road to treatment.

“It was the second day of the war,” says Omar al-Ghrub, 24, referring to the three weeks of Israel attacks in the winter of 2008-2009. “I was working that day,” he said. By day he worked in the al-Waleed marble and granite factory northwest of Gaza City, and by night served as its watchman.

A missile struck, and Ghrub lost both his legs. Six months later, he waits for the stumps to heal enough to begin the process of fitting artificial legs, and learning to walk anew.

Loay al-Najjar, 22, also lost both his legs. At 11pm on 13 January, Najjar was trying to help his sister evacuate a house that had been hit by shelling in the Khozaa region, east of Khan Younis. “I was hit by a drone missile,” says Najjar. His legs were lacerated with shrapnel. But he is one of the luckier ones; he was able to travel to Saudi Arabia where he received treatment for three months, and artificial legs.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common