Two premature Palestinian babies, admitted to the Barzilai Medical Center’s NICU unit, were among the civilian targets of Iranian Grad missiles launched by Hamas terrorists at Ashkelon.


 Two premature Palestinian babies treated at Barzilai Hospital


Dr. Maria Tzeitlin of BMCA examining one of the premature Palestinian babies (Photo: David Avioz, BMCA)

(Communicated by the Barzilai Medical Center Ashkelon’s spokesperson)

At the end of February, a Palestinian woman from Beit Lahiya gave birth to twins at the Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon. The twins, born prematurely, weighed less than 1.5 kgs each. They were admitted to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where they were treated by the medical team.

 Two premature Palestinian babies treated at Barzilai Hospital

BMCA’s neonatal intensive care unit,
transferred to a bomb shelter
(Photo: David Avioz, BMCA)

The first Hamas missiles began raining down on Ashkelon on Saturday (1 March) shortly after 5 a.m. When the Hamas shelling of Ashkelon started, the twins, a boy and girl, were still in the NICU. One of the Grad rockets fell a mere 50 meters from the hospital entrance. All the premature babies in the NICU unit, including the two Palestinian babies, were transferred to the hospital’s bomb shelter for fear that the hospital itself would receive a direct missile hit.

 Two premature Palestinian babies treated at Barzilai Hospital

One of the Palestinian twins
(Photo: David Avioz, BMCA)

Ashkelon Hospital, established in 1961, and renamed the Barzilai Medical Center ten years later, serves the area stretching from Ashdod in the north to Sderot in the south and Kiryat Gat in the east.

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Update: Iman Shefi, mother of the twins born in Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital in the midst of the Hamas rocket attack on the south two weeks ago, was interviewed by "Yediot Aharonot" reporter Matan Tzuri (11 Mar 2008):

Iman Shefi, a resident of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, was beside herself as she watched the trail of smoke left by three Grad rockets launched near her home towards Ashkelon. "I was petrified," she said. "I was scared that the rockets would hit the Ashkelon hospital where my two babies are."

Several months ago, Iman learnt she was pregnant with triplets. The first baby, born at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, died during labor. The Palestinian doctors decided to transfer Iman immediately to an Israeli hospital to give birth to the two remaining babies. The twins, Faisal, a boy, and Bian, a girl, were delivered by Caesarean section at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. They operation was successful, and the twins were admitted to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, which was moved to an air-raid shelter during the attacks.

After delivering the babies, the parents had to return home to Gaza, where they found themselves in the line of fire. "The Islamic Jihad takes the malfunctioning Hamas rockets, repairs them, and launches them at Israel. They do not always reach Israel, and they fall on us," Shefi said. "Last Tuesday three Kassam rockets fell close to my house. They hit small children and old people."

Only on Monday (10 March), two weeks after giving birth in the midst of the rocket attacks on the south, was Shefi able to return to Ashkelon to visit her babies. Overcome with emotion, she thanked the doctors and nurses for their devoted care to her infant twins.

She said, "I dream that my children will not have to go through what I have had to, that they will grow up in an era of peace. I pray that the residents of Sderot will not be angry with us. I sympathize with their suffering and don’t want them to be harmed, but we are victims as well. We have no control over the Hamas. They do as they please, in contradiction of the Quran. I do not want the Hamas in power, but I am not sure that Abu Mazen can stop the shooting."