Five hours with amputee girl who came from Gaza to Ankara for treatment

Every day, Rahaf tells her family more and more painful words, and the visiting Turks and Palestinians hope that this little girl will be the last to be affected by Israeli war crimes.

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Rahaf Abu Suleiman, an 11-year-old girl, just arrived in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to continue her treatment after she appealed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for urgent intervention to save her life given the poor health conditions in the already blockaded Gaza Strip.

Rahaf was routinely playing with her cousins close to their home in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on August 6, 2022, before an Israeli missile hit the area, killing five children and injuring a handful of others, including Rahaf and her 13-year-old brother Mohammed.

As a result of an F16-fired rocket, Rahaf lost three limbs. She lost her two legs and one arm with shrapnel struck different parts of her lean body, causing severe vision problems.

Almost hours upon her arrival in the Turkish capital,  Rahaf was subjected to a slew of medical operations, with the Turkish doctors insisting on intervening as soon as possible in the first hours to avoid further losses and harm to her already-exhausted body.

Don’t send me back…!

The only sentence Rahaf uses while lying on her 10th-floor bed in Ankara’s Sehir Hospital is “don’t send me back, I want to stay and continue my entire life here in Ankara.” Not to mention that she is waking up every now and then and weeping because of the horrific nightmares that are chasing her while in bed.

For Rahaf, Gaza became a source of horror as the Israeli warplanes used did not differentiate between a child, the elderly, a man, or a woman. During Israel’s recent onslaughts on the blockaded Gaza Strip, every living Palestinian has been a target, with children and women bearing the brunt of the toll.  Just to remind the reader that Israel, according to an official Palestinian study, massacred a thousand Palestinian children in the period between 2009-2022.

These practices prove nothing but that Israel is keen to target all kinds and ages of Palestinians, considering that the former Israeli Prime Minister Arel Sharon once said: “The good Palestinian is the dead Palestinian.”

Where did you put my limbs?

Another heart-breaking question Rahaf keeps asking her mother about is the three limbs she lost. “Where are my amputated or cut limbs now, are they buried in a tomb, do they write my name on that tomb, did you mix them with the martyrs’ bodies, will you bury me in the same tomb if I die…” Rahaf keeps lamenting.

The mother, the father, the visitors, and I have no answer. The mother just says that we are all good Muslims and this is a matter of fate or destiny that we have to be satisfied with.

It is going to take months or even years for Rahaf to recover from these nightmares, but her family says there could be a light at the end of the tunnel if their sweet daughter got the required treatment (smart limbs) that enables her to deal with her special needs in the future.

But I wanted to be a nurse?

Another painful or even agonizing word told by Rahaf when recalling her dreams of becoming a nurse in the near future. Looking at her new misery and realizing that she lost her two legs and an arm does nothing but adding insult to her great injury.

Rahaf was a wonderful school student with the hope of being a successful woman in the future. Rahaf was planning to be a mercy angel — the term Palestinians use for nurses — but found herself surrounded every day by three angels of mercy to help her overcome her grief.

Another unforgettable and non-narratable story is hearing Rahaf screaming because of pain. A video of her screaming of pain went viral on social media with the skinny girl complaining of pain in her eyes, legs, arms, back, and neck. Every single organ in her body was hit by shrapnel from the Israeli brutal missile.

Every day, Rahaf tells her family more and more painful words, and the visiting Turks and Palestinians hope that this little girl will be the last to be affected by Israeli war crimes.

Though, the painful truth is that unless the apartheid state continues its illegal occupation and as long as the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the Israeli atrocities, more Rahafs will be killed, injured, and regrettably paralyzed.


Ali Abo Rezeg

Ali Abo Rezeg is a Palestinian-Turkish researcher and journalist. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University. He has a master’s degree in International Relations from the Eastern Mediterranean University. He also has two books under publication. He is currently working as a chief correspondent (publisher, analysis writer) for Anadolu Agency and as a columnist for Daily Sabah. He has papers, opinions, and features published in Insight Turkey, Journal of Iranian Studies, Al-Jazeera, Peninsula, and the Middle East Monitor.

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