‘I Held on to My Husband’ – Cancer Patients in Gaza Die from War and Siege

Tariq Subh died from cancer due to the Israeli siege. (Photo: Supplied)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

“I held on to my husband, and told him he was everything for me, that I didn’t want to lose him.”

Cancer patients from Gaza, including children, have been systematically denied treatment by Israeli authorities, due to the blockade imposed on the Strip since 2006.

The situation for cancer patients, however, has rapidly deteriorated since the outbreak of the war on October 7.

Israel’s systematic targeting of hospitals and the complete siege imposed on the war-torn enclave have restricted access to any form of treatment.

The Palestine Chronicle spoke with the family of Tariq Subh, a 28-year-old journalist who passed away on April 19 from cancer, after he was denied access to treatment since the start of the war. 

My Brother Tariq

“My brother Tariq was a media professional at Al-Aqsa Network, he worked with the Jerusalem Media Committee, and was among the most prominent activists on social networks,” Abed Subh told The Palestine Chronicle.

“He was diagnosed with brain cancer about five years ago and underwent a lengthy treatment journey in Egypt, where he overcame the disease, and God completely healed him,” he said.

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After recovering, Tariq continued regular treatment to prevent a recurrence of the cancer. 

“God blessed him with a beautiful daughter named Ayla, who is two years old, and he was living a normal life before the Israeli war on Gaza began in October 2023,” Tariq added.

Dying Everyday 

Tariq’s wife, Walaa, told us that the beginning of the war raised immediate concerns in the family about the possibility to adhere to his treatment. 

“The occupation blocked the entry of medicines and medical supplies, leading to significant health setbacks for Tariq, causing the cancer to spread throughout his body,” Walaa told The Palestine Chronicle.

Walaa told us that they immediately contacted all health institutions in the Strip, but it was not an easy task. 

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“The occupation took the Turkish Friendship Hospital out of service. It invaded the medical complex and turned it into military barracks, where it is still stationed today. That was the only hospital dedicated to treating cancer patients in the Gaza Strip,” Walaa noted. 

“We immediately noticed that Tariq began to suffer significant health setbacks,” she said. 

“He rapidly lost the ability to walk, and he remained lying in bed on one side of his body, unable to move or turn, leading to sores and infections on his body”.

After searching in every hospital and pharmacy, the family managed to provide him with a medical mattress, but Tariq’s health continued to deteriorate, with high temperature and excruciating pain throughout his body.

“I saw my husband dying every day before my eyes and our young daughter Ayla’s eyes, but I could not help him or protect him from death,” Walaa said, with a shaking voice. 

“After great efforts, we managed to transfer him to the European Hospital in Gaza, where he stayed for one week, and despite his desperate condition, we did everything in our power to obtain a medical transfer for treatment abroad.”

Finally, the family managed to obtain a medical referral for treatment in Egypt, and after much hardship, they reached the Al-Arish Hospital. 

“Tariq spent several days there and eventually died from complications of cancer,” Walaa told us. 

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“My husband died after suffering for seven months during the war. People died from the Israeli bombing, and my husband Tariq died in front of our eyes dozens of times,” she said in tears. 

“Pain ravaged his body and he died as a martyr. His death is yet another crime by the Israeli occupation.”

Walaa told us that Tariq was everything for her. During the war, the woman lost her father, Professor Hani, her mother Marwa, her brothers Ahmed, Abdul Rahman, and Omar, her uncles Ahmed, Mohammed, Khaled, and Jamal.

“They all became martyrs in this war after the occupation targeted the residential buildings they lived in,” she said.

“I held on to my husband, and told him he was everything for me, that I didn’t want to lose him.”

Walaa is a pharmacy graduate and, as a medical specialist, helped her husband during his treatment, but now she feels completely lost. 

“My husband Tariq died in front of me and my daughter at the Al-Arish Hospital in Egypt. I hope he is the last one to die from cancer, and that efforts are made to save the lives of hundreds of patients who suffer pain and death in the Gaza Strip,” she said, in tears.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle in the Gaza Strip. His email is abdallahaljamal1987@gmail.com

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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