The Gaza grandmother scared of loving baby Maryam for fear of losing her too

Maryam with her grandmother Suha Saqallah. Credit: Alam Sadeq

Newsgathering by Humam Husari, words by Rachel Dixon

A tiny baby lies in an incubator in Gaza - at just a few days old Maryam has no idea seven of her relatives were killed in an Israeli air strike and her parents are fighting for their lives next door in the emergency room.

Just last week, her heavily pregnant mother and her family fled her bomb ravaged home in Gaza City.

They believed they would be safe in the south as they were told to evacuate there by the Israeli Defence Force. The family joined thousands of other displaced Gazans in Khan Younis, where the Israeli government has intensified shelling, reportedly killing hundreds of people.

Within a week, the mother was due to give birth - just days before her due date the air strike hit on Monday, October 23.

At 5am a missile struck their hiding place in Al Qarara - a town to the north of Khan Younis, plunging their refuge into pitch black.

This video contains distressing images

Maryam's grandmother Suha Saqallah told ITV News: "I woke up it was dark everywhere, I couldn’t breathe, we were under rubble.

"I couldn’t locate my daughter-in-law or her baby.

"I found my grandson, I carried him, and his head fell.

"My son pulled me out. He tried to pull out his wife [baby Maryam's mother], but her legs - the flesh was separated from the bones. "

The situation was life or death, an ambulance rushed the mother into hospital and doctors performed an emergency caesarian.

Map of Khan Younis, where the airstrike took place. Credit: ITV News

Baby Maryam was saved, but her mother has been left in a critical condition after doctors at Nasser Medical Complex, in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younes, were forced to remove one of her arms and a leg.

On the day she was born Maryam's brother, her uncle and her aunt's family of five were killed and her parents were both critically injured.

The only person to come out of the attack unscathed is her grandmother, Ms Saqallah.

She stays patiently by Maryam's bedside but is scared to start loving her granddaughter.

Suha Saqallah multiple family members in an Israeli airstrike. Credit: Alam Sadeq

Ms Saqallah said: "I keep saying I don’t want to love anybody or get attached to anybody. I keep losing them. 

"I have been crying for two days, my tears are all over my face all the time. They keep prescribing sedative drugs to me, no sedatives will bring my family back to me."

With her granddaughter reliant on an incubator and the electricity supply dwindling due to Israel's blockade, Ms Saqallah is right to be concerned for little Maryam's life.

"When we have no electricity, death is imminent for these babies," said pediatrician Darweesh Abu Elkher, who treated baby Maryam.

He continued: "We face so many difficulties in Nasser Medical Complex. We have 12 incubators and 12 ventilators, the incubators require electricity to keep working, as well as the ventilators and the heaters for the babies."

Darweesh Abu Elkher, a paediatrician at Nasser Medical Complex. Credit: Alam Sadeq

Hospitals in Gaza are struggling from severe shortages of medical supplies, especially anesthesia and the amount of fuel and electricity to run life critical machines.

Nasser Medical Complex manager Dr Nahed Abu Taema said: "Some limited aid has arrived, but it doesn’t meet the need.  

"We face a lack of medical supplies. But our medical crew don’t spare any effort to save injured people lives from imminent death.

"We keep working around the hour despite the lack of medical supplies and medical machines, especially the lack of ventilators in ICUs."

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