BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — As a pregnant Bridgeview woman prepares to give birth in just a few weeks, her thoughts continue to shift to her cousin in Gaza — who is expected to give birth without any anesthesia.
Fidaa Elaydi is an immigration lawyer representing many Arab communities migrating to the Chicagoland area. Her work was halted due to her own pregnancy and worry over the safety of her family members in the Maghazi refugee camp, located in the center of the Gaza Strip.
“She is very nervous about not having access to an epidural,” Elaydi said of her cousin’s pregnancy, which is just one of many catastrophes unfolding in the strip after weeks of Israeli bombing led to a shortage of medical supplies.
Elaydi spent a few years as a child in Gaza but has since resided in Bridgeview after her grandparents survived the first Nakba, or ‘Catastrophe,’ where an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were killed and millions were displaced from their homes in 1948.
“They initially left their homes temporarily, just like what’s being promised now until the secession of hostilities, but they all died and are all buried in that refugee camp where they weren’t expected to stay at for more than a few weeks,” Elaydi said.
Now, her cousin is expected to give birth in the same camp without any anesthesia after the Israeli military told about a million Palestinians to evacuate from Northern Gaza to the south earlier this month.
Since Oct. 7, over 11,000 Palestinian civilians, most of whom are women and children, have been killed in Israeli bombing.
“She went to a hospital in a nearby camp and made an appointment to be induced on (Nov. 22), hoping there will be a bed and painkillers available,” Elaydi said.
Elaydi said her cousin has not yet received any prenatal care in her final month and will not be surrounded by those who took care of her throughout her pregnancy.
Al-Shifa Hospital, which was holding up to 15,000 to 20,000 displaced people in Gaza City, was heavily bombed, leading to their last generator running out of fuel.
After power went out for Shifa’s incubators, the Gaza Health Ministry released a photo on Monday, which shows about a dozen premature babies wrapped in blankets together on a bed to keep them at a proper temperature.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 32 patients, including three babies, have died since Shifa’s emergency generator ran out of fuel Saturday. The ministry adds that 36 babies, as well as other patients, are at risk of dying because life-saving equipment can’t function.