Residents of impoverished Gaza Strip turn to Turkey for lifesaving medical care

For The Los Angeles Times:

ISTANBUL — Nearly two years after shrapnel from a mortar shell hit his family’s Gaza Strip home and wrecked his upper body, Rami Abdusallam can finally move his right arm thanks to a team of Turkish surgeons.

Abdusallam, who is from Rafah, at the southern edge of Gaza, said he had been sleeping in his bedroom when an Israeli shell crashed through the home’s roof.

“One piece of shrapnel entered my shoulder and came out from my chest, and here another cut open my belly,” he said recently at an apartment in Istanbul’s Fatih district, where he was recovering between surgeries.

The injuries and the lack of adequate medical care available in Gaza, an impoverished seaside territory with about 1.8 million Palestinians, led him to seek help in Turkey, the 26-year-old said.

Abdusallam is among more than 40 Palestinian men from Gaza who are sharing a rented apartment building while undergoing surgery and rehabilitation for injuries related to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. They said they have no ties to the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza.

The United Nations has said the few hospitals in Gaza are unable to cope with the demands for surgery and rehabilitation. Thousands of people wait long periods for appointments or apply for treatment in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Israel or Jordan.

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