Gaza medical student’s dreams challenged by war

Aseel Abu Haddaf, a Palestinian medical student from Rafah, Gaza, finds herself living in a tent instead of graduating from medical school due to the destruction caused by Israeli air strikes. The war in Gaza, sparked by a Hamas attack that claimed the lives of over 1,200 people, has uprooted normal life in the densely populated enclave, resulting in the deaths of approximately 25,000 Palestinians, according to local health authorities.

For Abu Haddaf and other students, the future is uncertain. They are unsure if their years of study will be recognized or if the remaining infrastructure of their university will have any record of their academic progress. Despite the devastating impact of the war, Abu Haddaf remains determined to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a doctor.

Abu Haddaf was in her final year at al-Azhar University in Gaza City, preparing to graduate and embark on her journey as an intern. She aspired to become a surgeon and viewed medicine as a means to make a positive impact on the challenging circumstances in Gaza. However, the city has been cut off from the rest of the region for weeks, and the scale of destruction is evident from visual evidence.

The lack of communication has left Abu Haddaf unaware of the fate of her lecturers, university staff, and fellow students. She hopes that despite the circumstances, they can resume their studies, even if it means learning in tents, and have access to educational support to fulfill their dreams of becoming doctors.

Originally residing in Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, the Abu Haddaf family lost their home due to Israeli strikes. Like the majority of Gaza residents, they are now homeless and seek refuge in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, which is considered comparatively safer from Israeli bombardment.

Abu Haddaf volunteers for medical duties under local authorities to gain practical experience, but she views it as an insufficient substitute for her university training. The dire situation in Gaza demands an increased number of medical professionals, as tens of thousands of people have been injured, the enclave faces potential famine according to U.N. projections, and the population is at a growing risk of disease.

The uncertainty surrounding whether students like Abu Haddaf will ever be able to complete their medical training adds to the list of unanswered questions resulting from the war. Nevertheless, their primary focus, like that of everyone in Gaza, is simply survival.

Living in the camp, Abu Haddaf and her family face challenging circumstances, with their main concerns revolving around finding food and clean drinking water. The struggle for basic necessities consumes their lives.

(Reporting by Saleh Salem, writing by Angus McDowall, Editing by William Maclean)
(Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters)

Israeli air strikes in Gaza have left Palestinian medical student Aseel Abu Haddaf living in a tent and unsure if she will ever become a doctor. The war has uprooted normal life in Gaza and killed approximately 25,000 Palestinians. Abu Haddaf’s university and home are in ruins, and she is uncertain if her years of study will count for anything. Despite the devastation, she remains determined to achieve her goal of becoming a doctor. Like many others, Abu Haddaf is now homeless and relies on local authorities for practical medical experience. The war’s impact on medical education in Gaza remains uncertain, but the priority for residents is simply survival.

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