As the emergency department of the al-Shifa hospital becomes increasingly overcrowded, a steady stream of pregnant Palestinian women is arriving in a building tucked behind the main hospital. Receiving between 25 to 50 women per day they are now having to redirect medical supplies to the intensive care unit.
Among the women is 28-year-old Hanan al-Mahessn. On the second day of the air strikes, her neighbour’s home was hit and destroyed. “I started to feel sick. Then the bleeding started,” she told Al Jazeera. Hanan was rushed to the hospital and lost three pints of blood. After going into surgery, her baby was delivered, but had died in the womb. The doctors made the decision to tell her that her little girl was in a special care unit as they felt she was too ill to receive the news. A day later she learnt the truth.
“My children are used to this war. They have grown up with the sound of bombs,” said Mariam Guneed, 39, a mother of eight. “We must have many children here, because we lose so many in the wars,” Mariam reflects as she returns to her room to sit and await the birth of her ninth child.
Less than a few kilometres from Shifa is the al-Awda hospital in the Jabalaya refugee camp of Gaza, one of the poorest areas of the city. At just 30 minutes old Nisreen has been born into a country under siege. The sounds of Israeli drones and bombardments can be heard above and the all too familiar whoosh of a Hamas rocket breaks the silence of the city. In a few days time, she will leave the hospital with her mother into an area which has suffered a large number of Israeli air strikes.
“Sometimes the women just don’t want to leave. They know they are safe here. We don’t turn them away, we keep them as long as they want to stay,” hospital director Dr Yousef Soueti said.