'Ola al-Waheidi acted quickly when she heard that her 9-year-old daughter Mais had leukemia.
Within a few days of learning about the diagnosis in early December, Ola had undertaken the paperwork required for Mais to receive medical treatment outside Gaza. Yet Ola’s efficiency proved no match for Israel’s cruel bureaucracy.
Ola was soon informed that she may not accompany her daughter through Erez, the military checkpoint separating Gaza and Israel. Mais would have to travel without her parents for treatment.
The family then had to give the Israeli military various names, requesting that someone on the list should accompany Mais. Israel rejected most of the suggestions, before deciding that Balqis al-Waheidi, a 72-year-old distant relative with diabetes and rheumatism, may travel with the child.
Mais was granted permission to travel on 10 December. When they reached Erez that day, Ola had still not told her daughter about the arrangements.
“I didn’t know how to tell her that I wouldn’t be with her,” said Ola. “She was holding my hand the whole way, telling me to not leave her.”
“Heart torn apart”
Once she had gone through the required procedures, Ola spoke to Mais, who was in an ambulance.
Ola said that she was would be back shortly with a bottle of water. Ola then called their relative Balqis over, asked the woman to take care of Mais and walked away. Mais had not known Balqis before this trip.
“I watched her [Mais] from a short distance and she had already started to cry,” said Ola. “My heart was torn apart at that moment.”
Mais was brought to Beit Jala Hospital near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
Muhammad al-Jarusha, who heads the hospital’s department for pediatric cancer, said that Mais was “sad and bored.”
“Mais needed her mother to be with her,” he added.'
Read more: Far right Israeli regime stops parents joining seriously ill children during treatment
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