With the Lord

Most of Thursday, Shevet Gaza coordinators Amar and his father Yousef were working tirelessly to bring a little nine-day-old baby girl from Gaza to Israel. Her name is Habiba. She was diagnosed with dextro-transpostion of the great arteries, one of the most urgent Gaza cases in some time.

During the ambulance trip to Sheba Medical Center, Habiba started to deteriorate, and needed to be brought urgently to the first hospital outside of the Gaza border. They stopped at a hospital in Ashkelon, where the pediatric cardiac staff treated her until they deemed her stable enough to transport the rest of the way to Sheba Medical.

Habiba and her mother arrived at Sheba and were brought to the neonatal ICU, but within a few hours this beautiful nine day-old-baby passed away.

Today Colin and I met her mother right outside the doors of the Sheba infant ward. As we received this woman who seemed to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders, it struck both of us that all around us were families wheeling their newborns out of the ward and extended families coming to meet their grandchildren for the first time.

Habiba’s mum’s eyes were clouded with disbelief. Nine days of life and now no more. After obtaining the necessary papers, we drove to the morgue to bring her body back to Gaza. She was in a blanket inside a box small enough to hold shoes.

Amar arranged for her to be buried in Jerusalem. Yousef met us there to bring her mother to a cemetery in East Jerusalem. The burial was only a few minutes and then we set off for Gaza. The name Habiba means beloved, and she truly was her mother’s beloved first and only daughter.

As Habiba’s mother returns to Gaza, she faces what might be a three-week quarantine. She will be alone in a designated room; we don’t know if her family will be allowed to come to her, and I can’t think of something worse than being alone after watching your baby die.

Please pray for her and for the authorities which decide the quarantine, if they may be stirred by mercy to shorten her quarantine term or make some allowances or forego it all together. Whatever happens, Lord, we pray you would be with her. May the hope of the resurrection be hers through our Messiah. For the words that the angels at the tomb of Jesus spoke to the women, those words are for Habiba as well. Though her body lies in Jerusalem, “she is not there, she has risen.”