Iman Al-Masry (29 years old) sits on a worn-out foam mattress, next to her are three of the quadruplets she gave birth to through a Caesarean section after she was displaced on foot during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The mother places her children, Yasser, Tia, and Lynn, on a mattress next to her inside a classroom in a school in the western city of Deir al-Balah, while her fourth child, Muhammad, lies in the nursery section of a hospital in the Nuseirat camp.
Like 1.9 million Gazans who, according to the United Nations, were displaced from their homes in the Gaza Strip, Iman Al-Masry was forced to flee bombing and fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas.
The mother left her home in Beit Hanoun in a hurry on the fifth day of the war that began on October 7, thinking that the war would not last long.
The woman says, “I only took some summer clothes for my children with me. I thought the war would not last more than a week or two and we would return home.”
Iman, who was six months pregnant with her three young children, walked five kilometers from her home to Jabalia camp, where she found a vehicle transporting them to Deir al-Balah.
She explains, “The distance I traveled from Beit Hanoun to Jabalia camp made me very tired and affected my pregnancy… I went to the doctor and he told me that I had symptoms of premature labor and that I would give birth early. They gave me needles to stabilize the pregnancy.”
In the eighth month of pregnancy, doctors decided to induce labor, and quadruplets were born in December in light of the war that broke out following the attack launched by Hamas on Israeli territory on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people, according to the latest Israeli official statistics.
In response to the attack, Israel vowed to “eliminate” Hamas, and launched a bombing campaign and ground invasion of the small Strip, killing more than 21,110 people, most of them civilians, according to the latest toll issued by the authorities of the Hamas-ruled Strip.
In the midst of war, Iman Al-Masry does not have enough time to recover from a caesarean section. Due to overcrowding in hospitals, she was forced to leave, leaving behind her newborn, Muhammad, who needs medical supervision.
The woman added, “The fourth child’s health condition was unstable. He weighed only one kilogram. He may or may not survive. Praise be to God, the other three children are in good health.”
“I was dreaming of the day they were born.”
Iman has not seen her son Muhammad since he was born, and says, “I feel worried about him, but the road is dangerous” to go visit him. She explains that a friend of her husband who lives in the Nuseirat camp visits him and reassures them about him.
She continues, “I was dreaming of the day they were born, how we would celebrate them… I was going to bathe them on the second day of birth with rose water according to our customs and we would have a celebration,” but “we have not bathed them since they were born ten days ago.”
Women suffer from nutritional deficiencies that do not allow them to breastfeed adequately. She also lacks hygiene products for her newborns, and in this regard she explains, “I use diapers sparingly. I am supposed to change them every two hours, but the situation is difficult. I just change diapers in the morning and evening.”
Her husband, Ammar Al-Masry, does not know what to do in the face of the miserable war conditions. He says, “I feel helpless in front of my family.” The 33-year-old father sits with his six children in a smelly classroom.
Ammar adds, “I feel afraid for my children’s lives. I do not know what to do or how to protect them. The smell of firewood pollutes the air, diseases are widespread, and dangerous bombing is all around them.”
Baby Tia suffers from yolk, which may lead to nerve damage, according to doctors.
He explains, “You must feed milk to heal. My wife needs to eat food that contains proteins, but I am unable to provide it for her. The children also need milk and diapers, but the prices have risen.”
He added tearfully, “I go out from morning until sunset to provide them with anything and so that I do not see them and feel remorseful.”