Embryos aren’t even safe in Gaza

An ultrasound image taken while Hana was still pregnant. (Photo courtesy of family) 

Hana had become pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

She was expecting triplets. But sadly she had a miscarriage in September last year.

The experience was “a nightmare,” she said.

“Our consolation was that we still had five frozen embryos,” she added. A doctor informed Hana and her husband Sari that another embryo transfer could be arranged within the following six months.

Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza has made that impossible.

In December, Israel attacked al-Basma Center, Gaza’s largest fertility clinic.

More than 4,000 embryos were destroyed. They included the five belonging to Hana and Sari.

“I felt angry, frustrated and disgusted by this brutality,” said Hana. “It’s a brutality that does not even spare the yet-to-be-born.”

The attack was a clear violation of the United Nations’ Genocide Convention.

Among the examples of genocide it cites are “measures intended to prevent births” within a racial, ethnic or religious group.

Sari argued that the attack on the clinic was tantamount to a massacre.

“I don’t think everybody understands how this isn’t any different from any other massacre,” he said. “To me, losing a frozen embryo felt like losing a son or a daughter in the war.”

Given that his wife had a miscarriage a few months earlier, “I can say that I lost my kids twice,” Sari added.

IVF is “expensive and physically and mentally exhausting,” Hana said.

When it is successful, the procedure can bring joy to couples who have encountered difficulties in conceiving a child.

Now that IVF services in Gaza have been dealt an extremely cruel blow, Hana is examining the possibility of having fertility treatment abroad.

“We can’t lose hope,” she said. “It’s our way of standing up to [Israel] this enemy.”

Randa Shehada is a writer based in Gaza.