Before leaving Rafah for Cairo last night, I went to the border terminal one last time.
Just after the end of the daily so-called cease fire from 1-4 p.m., a convoy of at least 10 ambulances arrived from Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. The crowd of media pounced on the first few ambulances to arrive, as paramedics began to transfer the patients to Egyptian ambulances. I was standing at a distance, having decided the compelling stories were slipping through the cracks with such a frenzy.
As I stood there alone, a paramedic walked toward me saying, "Come, look. A baby." I followed him to his ambulance and looked inside. When I saw the 3-year-old girl lying there, face covered in burns and bruises, both legs and an arm broken, I felt something inside me break.
Her mother, I was told, was also injured and coming in an ambulance to join her daughter at the border. The Israeli bomb killed three other members of the family. The baby's grandfather was standing nearby and I told him I was sorry for what happened. Then I held up my camera and said, "Is it okay?" He nodded yes.
I turned back toward the little girl and sat on the steps of the ambulance in the open doorway. She immediately began to wail. I didn't want her to be afraid of me. So I started talking to her, telling her she was going to be okay, that her mom would soon be there and that she was safe. Of course she couldn't understand a word of what I was saying, but something in my voice must have calmed her down, because she stopped crying. I took four photographs.
The girl's mother arrived, and the grandfather went to the side of her gurney to help move her. The mom sat up and tried to move on her own to the Egyptian gurney, but maybe it was too painful. She collapsed into her father's arms. I think she just wanted to be with her little girl. Mother and daughter were transported together to Al-Arish's military hospital.
Above, a paramedic waits in the doorway of a Palestinian ambulance next to her patient, a 15-year-old boy who was injured when Israeli bombs hit the mosque where he was praying in Gaza City.
The convoy of ambulances also brought two Norwegian doctors who amazingly had been working at Al-Shifa hospital alongside the Gazan doctors and nurses for the past 11 days. They somehow received approval to go across as part of the Norwegian Aid Committee. Dr. Mads Gilbert called the Palestinian doctors heroes and said their homes had been bombed and some members of their families had been killed and they still stayed at the hospital working around the clock, without proper equipment and sometimes without electricity.
He mentioned that 11 paramedics and one doctor had been "killed in action," that is, while driving clearly marked, uniformed ambulances to hospitals or to the border to try to save a patient. Dr. Gilbert also said that a bomb landed almost right in front of the convoy, shortly before their arrival at the border crossing.
A young man reaches toward his wounds in pain.