Note: AFSC staffer Firas Ramlawi recently shared this report from Gaza, where he is helping to provide humanitarian relief.
During our tour to distribute women's hygiene kits, we encountered a group of women suffering from kidney disease and renal failure. We assisted them by distributing some special kits and sat with them to hear about their struggles with the illness and displacement. Fatima Shahin, a woman in her sixties suffering from kidney failure, resides in the Beach Camp in Gaza City. She has been dealing with this condition for years, undergoing kidney dialysis three days a week at Al-Shifa Hospital. Her story began when the Israeli army started bombing multiple areas in her residential area, and they heard about the ground invasion from the sea.
She decided to evacuate for the first time to one of the UNRWA schools nearby, hoping to find protection and safety. However, she discovered that the Israelis were bombing the shelters for displaced people and advising them to go elsewhere. So, she evacuated once again to Al-Shifa Hospital, hoping to feel safe and, at the same time, undergoing dialysis to stay alive.
Suddenly, she learned that the Israeli army was besieging the hospital, and she stayed under the hospital's siege for 14 days, unable to leave the patients' rooms and suffering from a shortage of food and water. During this tough time, the Red Cross coordinated the evacuation of patients, directing them south to Gaza.
She went with her family to Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah and stayed there for two days. Then the hospital apologized to all kidney patients and asked them to leave because they were trying to cover only injury cases. Unable to find a safe place or access to treatment, her family took her to a small warehouse in Rafah to avoid the streets.
Fatima is one of the many stories we hear among thousands of stories that happened to Palestinians in Gaza due to the bombing and ground invasion by the Israeli army. Her suffering continues, and Fatima's story is far from over.