Today we visited Jabaliya Refugee Camp, one of the areas hardest hit by Israel's brutal attacks on Gaza earlier this month. Mohammed Al-Majdalawi, a volunteer with MECA, showed me the ruins of the refugee camp. Residents reported that they had no electricity or running water, nearly one week after Israel's unilateral ceasefire.
Pharmacies, schools, and homes were indiscriminately hit in Jabaliya. Mohammed's family was forced to evacuate their home because of intense bombing. He told me that though they are living in a refugee camp, not their original land, they consider themselves lucky to have a home at all. Thousands of people are still living in crowded UN schools turned to shelters because they have no where else to go.
Earlier in the day I went to the Zaytoun area of Gaza City. I saw families gathering wood from charred trees. The continued blockade of Gaza is adding insult to injury as these terrified families build fires to keep warm and cook due to the lack of cooking gas. Residents from the neighborhood told me stories of wild dogs coming to eat their dead neighbors, relatives bleeding to death because Israel would not allow emergency workers reach the area, and Israeli soldiers entering homes to beat and then kill people.
I have been in Gaza just two short days and have already witnessed so much death and destruction. The scale of the effects of these attacks is enormous. MECA is doing a small part by sending a mobile intensive care unit, 3.5 tons of powdered milk, 5 tons fortified baby cereal, thousands of crayons and coloring books. $1.5 million worth of medicine for children and infants as well as 40 wheelchairs are still en route to Gaza. But we must keep the world's attention on Gaza. We must give these children an opportunity to heal and to live out their lives in freedom.