Palestinians carried 62 coffins through the streets of Gaza City to represent people
who have died since the borders were closed [EPA]

The day before the US president arrived in the region, a crowd of thousands gathered in the Gaza City rain – preceded by a truck loaded with speakers they slowly proceeded through the city, carrying a total of 62 coffins, all of them empty.

Each symbolised one of the people that Palestinians say died since Israel sealed the borders because they could not get out of Gaza to receive medical treatment.

Each of the coffins were carried by mourning family members of the person who died.

This is the reality of the Israeli siege that President Bush just ignores"
The ongoing Israeli closure of the area is not an abstract here, it is a physical containment of one and a half million people in what they regard as a giant prison, and people die because of it.

Salah el Din Street runs from north to south through the region, bisecting Gaza City. It is a road pitted with potholes, at places flooded with sewerage overflowing from a plumbing system that just cannot cope.

It is on this street that the Joah family live, their three-roomed house is particularly crowded at the moment because two of Mahmoud Joah's married daughters are staying for a while.

He has eight children, all daughters, one of them is Amira who is 15 years old.

Facing death

This sweet–faced, well-spoken teenager is literally facing death because of the closure. She is suffering from an advanced disease of liver and spleen.

Before the closure she would travel to an Egyptian hospital regularly to receive treatment that would slow down the progression of the disease, and ease the pain. 

Before the closure she was on a regime of eight different drugs and vitamins each day.

Border closures have prevented Palestinians
from getting medical care in Egypt [AFP]
In recent months the prescription drugs she needs have run out in Gaza, one of them in particular (a brand called Ursogall) is absolutely critical if she is not to suffer total failure of her liver.   

The needs of a sick young teenager are not necessarily a priority to the aid organisations that struggle to alleviate the situation, negotiating continuously with Israeli authorities about what can be transported into Gaza and when.

Amira has been without Ursogal for weeks, and her condition is deteriorating daily, her skin growing more and more yellow as the diseased cells in her liver multiply, the protection offered by Ursogall no longer there.

Amira believes that no one outside Gaza cares.

"If they did, I would not be in this terrible situation," she says.

Her father agrees. "This is the reality of the Israeli siege that President Bush just ignores," he says.

Amira's elder sister looks on and weeps, her sister has done nothing wrong she says. "She suffers simply because she's a Palestinian," she says.

In this house on Salah el Din street, such a statement it is not a political position, it is a simple truth.

Source: Al Jazeera