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Gaza cancer patients hope for peace as medical supplies run low

Israel's bombardment of Gaza has devastated the area leaving many Palestinians suffering, but those who are already battling illnesses like cancer are finding it doubly hard to survive

GAZA CITY: As a 72-hour truce enters its final day in battered Gaza, the temporary return to normal life has led many Palestinians to ponder the chances of a more lasting truce. Israel's bombardment of Gaza has devastated the area, leaving many suffering. But those who are already battling illnesses like cancer are finding it doubly hard to survive

Om Adham, a mother of eight, is battling cancer amid the struggle of repeated wars with Israel. She was forced to flee her home in Gaza, after Israeli forces targeted her neighbourhood. She is now living with 30 family members in a single room.

Since the latest round of hostilities began she has not been able to access her medication or go to hospital to receive treatment. "When I go to the hospital, they tell me there's no space for me - no medication. They tell us they put the war casualties in our place, so this makes us feel really down," she said.

A lasting ceasefire is the only hope Om Adham has for her life to return to some kind of normalcy, but that will not come easily.

Eman Shanan, the general manager of the Cancer Aid Programme in Gaza and a cancer survivor herself, says the conflict has wreaked untold suffering on the sick and vulnerable. She said: "We have a lot of cancer patients in UN schools. They left their houses and are suffering. Nobody is hearing them. There are more than 10,000 patients in Gaza."

Hospitals are overburdened and there is a shortage of medicine. With almost 2,000 dead and 6,000 injured in the conflict, cancer patients are not a priority.

There is no water, electricity and medical supplies. Yet for people here, it is not only the physical war but the psychological scars that seem deeper than ever. A lasting peace deal is the only hope that Palestinians have. But even with the first hopeful signs of a longer ceasefire, a long-term truce is by no means guaranteed. Both sides have their demands and it is a challenge to find any common ground.

"The issue of destroying the tunnels, in my opinion, have very much been completed, according to Israeli sources,” said Mukhaimer Abu Sada, a political analyst. “But disarming Gaza and disarming the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza will be very complex. This goal will not be achieved, now or even in the future, unless there is a political settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - an end to the Israeli occupation and an establishment of a Palestinian state next to the Israeli state.”

As politicians debate and negotiate for some form of settlement, thousands of Palestinians are just grateful for a break in the fighting. Om Adham's desires are simple - good health and safety for her and her family - but those wishes seem very far away from being met.