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once beautiful: iftaar in the destroyed Al Quds hospital complex


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A call from Ahmed, head of volunteers for the Red Crescent in Gaza, brought me to the rooftop restaurant of one of the Al Quds hospital complex buildings. This is the same building badly burned, destroyed by Israeli shelling during the 23 day massacre of Gaza.

They were such lovely buildings! Much woodwork, pieces of artwork from local Palestinians, even a mini-natural museum (hence the peacock mentioned in a much earlier entry, when a friend and I did tae kwan do on the top floor of this building), a theatre, a recreation area (ping pong table),…

At iftaar, I saw many of the medics I hadn’t seen for months, some I hadn’t seen since the war on Gaza. They were as gracious (and slightly wacky) as I recalled, some still volunteering with the Red Crescent while studying at university, others full-time volunteers.

In the room where the women ate together, a number of stunning lanterns hung, lit for Ramadan. The room itself shared the qualities of warm wood and complementary art-work. This room wasn’t reached by the fires which ate the other half of the top floor (walking to tae kwan do class entailed tiptoeing through charred rafters and under a fire-opened roof).

Walking back, no taxis on the street as all were still with families for iftaar, I see more subtle touches indicating Ramadan: a few more lanterns here and there, some shop windows decorated… But in the end, under siege and ravaged by the massacre, Gaza’s Ramadan pales to previous years, everyone tells me.

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