Suspense abounds over Palestinian health resolution at WHO

BEIRUT: Five-year-old Adam Afana dreamed of being a police officer “to keep people safe,” his uncle said, before losing his father, brothers and cousins, and almost his entire left arm in an Israeli attack seven months ago. about Gaza.
Now, Adam is the first Palestinian child injured in Israel’s war in Gaza to land in Lebanon, where he has been receiving care since Monday at the American University of Beirut Medical Center with the help of the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children’s Fund.
In a sunlit hospital room, Adam plays with superhero action figures and watches videos on an iPad. He laughs, mocks his uncle and the nurses, but only gives stilted answers when they ask him about his journey to safety in Beirut.
“He remembers how they hurt him, his sister and his father, how they were all together. And she starts to cry; psychologically it is difficult for him,” said his uncle Eid Afana, 29, his caretaker in Beirut.
Getting him to Lebanon was no easy task: Adam spent more than six weeks in Gaza after being wounded, sheltering from shelling and undergoing emergency arm surgery without anesthesia.
In early December, his uncle managed to enter Gaza City for just two days from Egypt to get Adam and his mother through the Rafah crossing. “It was my city and I couldn’t even recognize it. The European hospital was full of people being treated on the floor… The floor was a lake of blood, just body parts. It was a disaster,” Afana said.
They were lucky: Israel’s attack this month on Rafah cut off the main crossing into Egypt, restricting aid and stopping what had been a trickle of people leaving for medical help.
The family spent almost six months in Egypt, but Adam’s arm needed specialist care. Thus began the campaign to take him to Lebanon, a country with a precarious sectarian balance and a complex history with Palestinian refugees, with severe restrictions on entry.
AUB President Fadlo Khoury told reporters earlier this week that the university had “extensive discussions” with Lebanese authorities to allow Adam to enter, and that they hoped he would be the first of more Palestinian children in benefit from the hospital’s experience in treating war trauma.
Dania Dandashli of the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children’s Fund told Reuters the organization hoped to treat a total of 50 Palestinian children injured by war in Lebanon over the next year.
Israel’s ground and air campaign in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 people, including thousands of children, and injured more than 81,000, Gaza health authorities say.
The war was sparked by an attack by Hamas militants against Israelis that killed 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli counts.

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