When Israel destroyed a pharmacy

Massive destruction in al-Zaytoun, a neighborhood of Gaza City. 

Khaled Daoud APA images

The Tutah family had spent a fortune on setting up a pharmacy in Gaza City.

It had been in business little more than two years when Israel launched the current genocidal war.

When Israel ordered a mass evacuation from the northern part of Gaza on 13 October, the family had no option than to leave. Al-Zaytoun – the neighborhood in which the pharmacy was located – had been subjected to extreme Israeli violence during previous attacks on Gaza.

They went to stay with a relative in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. Back in their pharmacy, they left medical supplies estimated at $90,000.

From those stocks, they just took some blood pressure medication for Fatima, the mother of the family.

They stayed with their relatives for more than 50 days. Then they were uprooted again, this time taking shelter at the European Gaza Hospital, near Khan Younis.

They were still at the hospital in late February, when they heard of a major Israeli offensive against al-Zaytoun.

It took a number of days before they learned the terrible news about what happened to the pharmacy.

After repeated attempts, Momen Tutah – one of several pharmacists in the family – was able to contact his friend Azzam.

Azzam went to check on the pharmacy and informed Momen that it was completely destroyed.

“Everything was gone,” Momen said, recalling his conversation with Azzam. “It was all burnt out.”

The family had taken an enormous risk to open the pharmacy in the first place.

As well as borrowing money, they sold the 350 square meters piece of land which they owned.

All of the family were involved in the business. The siblings who were not qualified pharmacists helped with such tasks as marketing via social media and delivering supplies.

Before they opened the pharmacy, the family had been in a precarious situation. Fatima was supposed to take medication every day but she could not afford to.

When the family incurred debt to put the children through university, Fatima took less medicine than the prescribed dose so that she could save some money.

One of Momen’s first thoughts on hearing that the pharmacy had been destroyed was that his mother would no longer have enough medicine.

Their story is far from exceptional.

For the past six months, Israel has been laying waste to Gaza. Everything that families invested in is being annihilated.

Qasem Waleed El-Farra is a physicist based in Gaza.