She managed to flee Gaza after half her family was killed in an Israeli strike. She blames Israel and Hamas for what happened

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Roba Abu Jibba looked shell-shocked as the doctor delivered his news: She couldn’t have the operation she desperately wanted. She nervously scrunched the fabric of her dress, fighting off the tears that began flooding her one remaining eye.

The 19-year-old Palestinian woman had pinned all her hopes on getting a prosthetic eye after suffering life-changing injuries in an Israeli strike in Gaza. She was brought to Doha for treatment by the Qatari government.

But once again, her dreams were shattered.

Abu Jibba lost her right eye and the surrounding part of her face in early January when an Israeli bomb hit the warehouse in central Gaza where she and her family had been sheltering for months.

Three of her brothers and two of her sisters were killed. Her wounded mother and three surviving siblings tried to get help and left her behind, later believing she was dead. She spent more than three days surrounded by the bodies of her siblings before making it to a hospital – only to find out there were no doctors there to treat her because most of the medical staff had fled the fighting in the area.

“I blame (the Israelis) for killing the children. They spared no one,” she added.

Deep wounds

She said her one source of happiness was Mohammed, a friend of her brother. The two met after her family was displaced from their home in Gaza City and became close after the attack in January. When Abu Jibba and her family were separated, and she was hospitalized, Mohammed offered desperately needed emotional support. She said they were going to get engaged and married.

Seven days before Abu Jibba left Gaza for treatment, Mohammed was killed by an artillery shell while collecting firewood in Rafah, she said, adding that her cousin who was with Mohammed was injured in the attack and lost his leg.

Abu Jibba said she doesn’t even have a photo of Mohammed, having lost her phone in the carnage.

Difficult choices

Most of the 2.2 million Palestinians who live in Gaza have never left the strip. Before the war, some 18,000 Gazans had work permits that allowed them to work in Israel. But after Hamas launched its deadly terror attack from Gaza on October 7, Israel shut the borders, in general only allowing foreigners and a few hundred of the most seriously wounded to leave.

“It’s hard leaving your family especially at a time of war and in a difficult situation,” she said. “I’m worried something else (could) happen to them and I can’t bring them with me.”

But her stay in Doha has turned into yet another traumatic experience.

The doctor told her that Qatar did not offer orbital prosthetic implants and said that her issue was just “cosmetic.”

Research has long shown that ocular prosthesis leads to significant improvements in the patient’s physical and psychological health. The prosthetic consists of an artificial eye, eyelids, and any part of the eye socket or the surrounding area missing. It’s a cost-effective and less complicated alternative to reconstructive surgery and is performed routinely across the world.

As Abu Jibba left the doctor’s office, the weight of the moment crushed her. She shook and gasped. Panic set in, and she looked like she was reliving the worst moment of her life. She squeezed her hands against her ears, leaning against the wall.

Nurses eased her onto a stretcher. She curled up into a ball and hid under a blanket.

She is keeping the news away from her mother, fearing the shock might cause her even more pain.

“She pushed me to leave to get the surgery. I don’t want to go back to her with this patch,” she said. “I (need this) so my mother doesn’t see me like this and be depressed.”

“Yes, there’s a war in Gaza but at least you are with your family and loved ones,” she said. “I just hope to God this war is over… but even if there is war I want to go back.”

This post appeared first on