Why shoot pregnant women in Gaza?

Gaza 10

The present genocide on Gaza has been hard on pregnant women to fathom. With the forced displacement of people as ordered by the Israeli big guns from the air and sea, the life of pregnant women have become particularly strenuous because of the enduring physical circumstances.

Despite the fact that 70 percent of the Palestinians that were killed since 7 October were women and children, the number of pregnant women, and the maybe to the dismay of the Israeli political and military establishments, today stands at 50,000.

Further, women at 5,500, are expected to give birth within the coming few months according to UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Natalia Kanem. And because of the war on Gaza, she said the “situation is beyond catastrophic.”

180 babies delivered daily

And indeed so, at least 180 women deliver babies each day while Israeli military strikes on houses continue. Many women can only hope the strikes, and some do, miss their targets and/or when they are not going into labor.

Since the war on Gaza, these women have been on the move with their families, sometimes three or four times, from one place to another starting from the north of the Strip, to the center and now to the south as ordered by Israeli big guns.

And so, some have been known to deliver while on the roads.

This bloody war has presented an unusual situation for many young Palestinian mothers. Its war versus delivery and/or delivery during strikes and bombs, in wrecked houses and makeshift shelters in schools and large spaces.

The reproductive element in Gaza has been sharpened by the young population structure of the enclave. About half of the 2.2 million population are under the age of 18 and 70 percent of the people are less than 30 years old according to Professor Maha Nassar of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona.

Further, UN statistics show there are 572,000 women and girls that are of reproductive age, representing 1 in 4 of the population which is an exceedingly high number. At one level, the young population is good for a vibrant economy that is being systematically destroyed by Israeli warplanes and one-ton bombs and crazy missiles and shooting drones.

Decimation of the health sector

At another, health planners from both the government in Gaza and UN workers say the situation has long become impossible because of the decimation of the health system in Gaza.

The World Health Organization states that only nine out of the 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are partially functional and these are in the south of the Strip, while most of those in the north have long been put out of action by Israeli military strikes and targeting.

The Israeli air force and army excelled itself in the Gaza war by bombing and shooting at hospitals, entering these places and arresting their medical staff. They also bombed mosques and churches, anywhere of mass gatherings of people who thought they would be safe there. But they were/are extremely wrong.

UNRWA used to operate 22 postal-natal clinics for mothers but these are now down to seven, increasing the stress on their operations and services and the deadly assaults are continuing.

UNRWA runs 183 schools in Gaza, most of these have been turned into places of shelter for the displaced because they have nowhere to go after the intensive bombing of their homes. Pregnant women have found these places as their new abodes along with thousands of other women, men and children.

However, these places just provide sparse shelter, many of these women are in their expectancy stage, there is no food and no water here, and thus they are suffering quitely from malnutrition. When water is sometimes found, its unclean. This not to say anything about the cold and the rain and starvation.

An austere world for young women. Sometime when the delivery is complicated a c-section has to be performed and this is frequently done without anesthesia which increases the danger for the mother not to say anything of the excruciating pain, bleeding and possible death.

Once brought into the world, it is the turn of babies to suffer. There is no milk or milk powder, and no pampers. With no water, and most of the time no clean water, the hygienic situation goes down the drain. Covering them with the odd pieces of cloth, here and there, is the best they can do.

Babies are resilient usually but this situation is highly unusual and damning!

How to feed the babies is another problem. How will they survive is the best question that can be put forward. One mother simply said the baby is fed water rather than milk, adding that he survived while his father, her son, is left for dead under the wreckage and rubble. She doesn’t know what will happen to the baby but she is taking things a day at a time, praying, supplies will be brought in to the UNRWA shelter.

Cowboy country

Gaza has truly become cowboy country. If civilians are not bombed from the air they are targeted pointed blank from Israeli snipers on the ground with no mercy as soldiers showed when they shot and killed a number of pregnant women hastily making their way to hospital.

Worse still after they shot them, they bulldozed their bodies as if they wanted to hide their evil deeds. But to no avail, as their actions will long be remembered as part of the heinous crimes committed against the Palestinians of Gaza, the stuff of Hollywood films.

So, it would be a gross understatement to say Israeli soldiers are unkind to Gazan women. 

Terrible still, through their incessant bombing of homes, refugee areas and rows of houses, they are making sure many of these pregnant women remain under the rubble and concrete. Today, it is estimated more than 7000 remain dead below ground and most be these are women and children since nobody knows their whereabouts.

Gazan pregnant women are targeted for a reason: They make the future of Palestine live through the wheels of its coming generations.

Marwan Asmar, who has a Phd from the UK’s Leeds University, has long worked in journalism in Jordan and the Gulf countries.

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