Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Women

Pregnant women, newborns contaminated with heavy metals linked to Israeli attacks

Shujeiyah400-x-300

Newborn babies and their mothers exposed to Israeli attacks in 2014 have a high level of heavy metal contamination in their hair, reports a study published in the latest British Medical Journal (BMJ Open). The research was carried out in Gaza on 502 women who were pregnant at the time of the 2014 Israeli offensive.

Italian, Finnish and Gazan researchers analyzed the quantities of 23 kinds of metal in the hair of the women and the children they subsequently gave birth to, and compared them with the metal content in women’s hair outside of war zones. They also studied in utero transmission of heavy metals, as well as the hypothesis of contamination unrelated to war.

“Heavy metals used during wars are toxic, teratogenic and carcinogenic, and this study has shown they pose a health risk to pregnant women and their children, now and in the long-term” said lead researcher, Paola Manduca.

Teratogens disrupt the development of the embryo and can cause birth defects, while carcinogens can cause cancer.

“They are known as endocrine disruptors. They remain in the environment, remain in bodies and accumulate due to chronic exposure if their sources are not eliminated from the environment,” said Manduca.

Such sources include weapon remnants themselves, substances released during the explosion of missiles and shells, and contaminated ruins.

Using Plasma-Mass-coupled spectrometry (ICP-MS), the researchers made comparisons with groups exposed to domestic and agricultural chemicals.

Although women’s heavy metal load was higher than that of the newborns, it was not enough of a difference to protect the babies from harm: the study found an increase in birth defects and preterm births from 2011 data.

The rate of birth defects reported in the Gaza study was 4.5%, compared for example to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) figure of 3% for the United States – the Gaza rate is 50% higher.

Equally worrying, the study documented that the frequency of exposure to military attacks was about 70% in the random sample of 502 mothers, suggesting overall contamination of the entire population.

“Surveillance, bio-monitoring and further research on this subject is essential,” said Paola Manduca. “The risk of transgenerational genetic mutations can not be ruled out.”


MOH Gaza: Muslim holy days marred by genocide in Gaza

Press Release
Gaza Ministry of Health, Palestine
July 29, 2014

Outpatients Department at Shifa Hospital bombed yesterday

Outpatients Department at Shifa Hospital bombed yesterday

The Ministry of Health Gaza is pained to express its deep sadness and outrage at the Israeli attacks on Gaza on our holy days of Eid al-Fitr.

In the last 24 hours, 120 people have been killed, bringing the total to 1,156.

Particularly distressing was the death in Al Bureij refugee camp of Diana Abu Jaber and her unborn baby only a week before his estimated date of delivery.

Diana’s home was struck by an F-16 airstrike.

“As it collapsed a concrete pillar fell on her,” reported Dr Kamal Khatab, Medical Superintendent of Al Aqsa Hospital. “A shell ripped her abdomen open, the unborn baby fell out and was hit in the head with shrapnel, and his brain matter was extruded. Both mother and baby died immediately.” (more…)


Mothers’ Day in Gaza

What does a mother in Gaza do on Mothers’ Day?

This room is kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and lounge to a family of four in Khan Younis

She wakes to pitch blackness, because there is no electricity to light the room.

She fumbles her way by torch or candlelight (if there is not too much wind to blow it out) to the bathroom.

Is she in luck this-morning? Did the electricity come on during the night and power the pump so that there is water in the roof-top tank to wash with? Even if it is so icy-cold and salty that it stings her eyes almost as much as the teargas that her sisters in the West Bank and Jerusalem must bear?

Is there any water left in the drinking container, to make a cup of coffee, or will she have to stumble into the yard and borrow some from her neighbour’s bucket? Is there even any coffee now that UNRWA has cut her food aid? Will her neighbour have any water left in her bucket this morning?

Will she have time to fetch and make and drink it before the second-youngest child awakes, Nuha, who fell into a fitful fevered sleep it seems like only minutes ago? The child who needs medicine that the hospital does not have, because the Palestinian Authority has not sent it, like the other 79.99% of necessary medicines and disposables?

Will Nuha meet the same fate as her older brother Ahmed, who died at Rafah Crossing waiting to go to Egypt for medical treatment unavailable in Gaza?

Who will say the Salat al-Janazah, with her father stuck two years in an Israeli jail, without charge…

Yes, there is some water, Alhamdulillah – enough for a cup of tea. She lights the gas. It burns a moment, sputters, and dies. The gas has given up the ghost.

She sighs. She prays. She crawls back into the bed she shares with her children, a mattress on the floor of the room they now call home. A room in the already-overcrowded house of a relative, where five families inhabit each of the five bedrooms that once housed but one child – yet still better than the rubbled remains of their own houses, struck by Israeli rockets, made unlivable by floodwaters, and for which repairs are impossible because of the lack of building materials.

At least she is not alone, she thinks as she dozes off, wrapping her surviving children in the warmth of her love, the only thing she has to give them.

Who will help her, this mother of Gaza, on this Mothers’ Day – or any other day?