Suspense abounds over Palestinian health resolution at WHO

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BEIRUT: Five-year-old Adam Afana dreamed of becoming a police officer “to protect people,” his uncle said, before he lost his father, siblings and cousins, as well as almost his entire left arm, in an Israeli attack on Gaza seven months ago.
Now Adam is the first Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli Gaza war to land in Lebanon, where he has been receiving treatment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center since Monday with the support of the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children’s Fund.
In a sunlit room at the hospital, Adam plays with superhero action figures and watches videos on an iPad. He laughs, pokes fun at his uncle and the nurses, but gives stilted answers when asked about his trip to safety in Beirut.
“He remembers how he was injured, his sister and his father – how they were all together. And he starts crying – it is psychologically difficult for him,” said his uncle Eid Afana, 29, his carer in Beirut.
Getting him to Lebanon was no easy task: Adam spent more than six weeks in Gaza after his injury, seeking shelter from bombings and undergoing emergency surgery on his arm without anesthesia.
In early December, his uncle managed to enter Gaza from Egypt for just two days to get Adam and his mother out through the Rafah border crossing. “It was my city and I didn’t even recognize it. The European hospital was full of people being treated on the floor… The floor was a sea of ​​blood, just body parts. It was a disaster,” Afana said.
They were lucky: the Israeli attack on Rafah this month cut off the main border crossing into Egypt, limiting aid and halting the previously small flow of people seeking medical help.
The family spent nearly six months in Egypt, but Adam’s arm required special treatment, so the campaign began to bring him to Lebanon, a country with a precarious sectarian balance and a complex history with Palestinian refugees, where entry is strictly restricted.
AUB President Fadlo Khoury told reporters earlier this week that the university had held “extensive discussions” with Lebanese authorities to allow Adam to enter the country – and that it was hoped he would be the first of other Palestinian children to benefit from the hospital’s expertise in treating war trauma.
Dania Dandashli of the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children’s Fund told Reuters the organization hopes to treat a total of 50 war-injured Palestinian children in Lebanon next year.
According to Gaza health authorities, Israel’s ground and air strikes in the Gaza Strip have killed more than 36,000 people, including thousands of children, and injured more than 81,000.
The war was triggered by an attack by Hamas fighters on Israel, in which, according to Israeli calculations, 1,200 people were killed and over 250 hostages taken.

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