Rage at Israeli war crimes in Gaza on the streets of London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Ibitsam is “terrified to die” when she gives birth in Gaza next month. Doctors say she “needs special care”, but she won’t get the basics amid the destruction meted out by Israel.

Its blockades of aid, including medicines, mean that pregnant women have been forced to give birth through caesarean section without anaesthetic. 

“Most of the hospitals are currently out of service,” she told Socialist Worker from Rafah, where she recently fled to from Deir el-Balah in central Gaza. “I’m scared about my delivery.”  

She added that everyone in Rafah is barely surviving whether they are pregnant or not. “Water is polluted,” she said. “There’s little food in the markets, and if it is available, it’s extremely expensive. The electricity has been cut.”

Ibitsam is one of an estimated 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, according to the World Health Organisation.

The UN agency Unicef calculated that 20,000 babies have been born since 7 October, meaning that women have given birth around every 10 minutes. 

Yafa Abu Akar lived in Khan Younis in Gaza. She told ABC News in December that she knew of a “horrible situation” where doctors were forced to cut up the stomach of a woman who was nine months pregnant with no anaesthetic. 

With 1.9 million packed into Rafah, women who make it to health facilities to give birth have to return to tents and makeshift shelters with their newborns. 

Wissam Zaqout, the head of the neonatal department at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, said that babies born in tents are particularly at risk—especially to catching hypothermia. “Sadly, we have received many cases like these where babies contract hypothermia, and unfortunately, half of them lose their lives,” he said. 

Tess Ingram of Unicef described giving birth in Gaza as being “delivered into hell”. In an interview with NPR last month, she said, “Mothers are leaving hours after having a serious caesarean operation, with a newborn baby, back to the streets in many cases.

“We’re talking about displaced women returning to makeshift shelters of tarpaulins and blankets on the streets of Gaza, where they’re not only at threat because of the bombardments, but they also don’t have basic things like clean water or food or even clothes for the baby.

 “I met one mother who was taking her newborn baby back to their tent, and the baby didn’t have any clothes.”

Israel’s systematic denial of aid and destruction of health services and infrastructure is part of the Zionist state’s genocidal plan. 

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