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Eyewitness: young disabled woman struck by Israeli bomb

18 August 2014

An Israeli bomb blasted into a residential home for people with disabilities, leaving 20-year-old Saly Saqer, who has cerebral palsy, brutally injured. Thankfully she received critical care before it was too late.

A young wounded woman is given urgent medical care

Saly's home hit

Saly, diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, lived in a residential home for people with disabilities in Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip. Her mother Sooma Saqer and family visited her regularly.

When Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip started, airstrikes and shelling made it too dangerous for them to stay at home. 

Sooma explains: 'We decided to run to a UN shelter, and asked to take Saly with us.  But the director of her residential home said it was much safer and easier for Saly to stay with them to receive the care that probably wouldn't be available in the shelters.'

Soon after however, Sooma was devastated to hear on the news that her daughter’s home had been targeted and hit by Israeli forces.

Alive but critically injured

Saly’s home was struck as she slept peacefully inside. The building collapsed and everyone inside was thought to have been killed.

Sooma frantically tried to discover what had happened. Luckily, her relative, a journalist who covered the incident confirmed that there were survivors. 

Sooma recalls: ‘He told me that my daughter was alive, though she had sustained critical injuries, and she was being referred to a hospital in northern Gaza.'

But due to the limited capacity of the hospital, Saly was immediately referred to the Intensive Care Unit of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Prematurely discharged

Sooma recalls: 'When I went to Shifa Hospital to see my daughter, doctors said she had sustained burns all over her body, that her skull had an injury ‘crack’, and she also had a pelvic fracture.  

'The paramedics who rescued Saly said: “Your daughter is lucky to have survived...the pressure of the bomb was so high that it threw her meters away.” '

Saly had held on tight to her doll while being thrown by the blast, but it got lost on the way to the hospital.

As Israel's intense attacks intensified, and casualties started to pour into Shifa, another overwhelmed hospital was forced to discharge Saly, despite her severe injuries.

Saly should have received wound dressing and monitoring after being discharged, but on returning home nobody contacted them; they were alone.

Thankfully, Sooma was referred to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) who came immediately after she called them asking for help.

  • I’ll be grateful to PMRS all my life for all they have been doing to save Saly,'

Medical care and human kindness

When the PMRS team examined Saly, they discovered fractures that the hospital had not found.

PMRS immediately began daily home visits to Saly to dress her wounds and began teaching her mother how to do this too.  And they provided the long-term medication she was lacking since the attacks started.

They also helped to refer Saly for treatment not available in Gaza, and supported Sooma with applying for permits needed to leave the Strip, resulting in Saly finally being transferred to hospital in Jerusalem on 13 August.

Most touchingly, the PMRS team also brought Saly a doll similar to the one she held so tightly in the midst of the airstrike, but then lost.

Caring for hundreds of thousands

PMRS have carried out more than 375 individual wound dressing sessions for 160 people since they started this much-needed service in July.

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