A newly orphaned baby with a forehead wound. An 8-year-old in a full-body cast. A 13-year-old missing a leg.
This week, CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward was given a rare look inside a field hospital set up by the United Arab Emirates in southern Gaza and witnessed first-hand the horror and humanitarian crisis unfolding there.
With local hospitals overwhelmed by the sick and injured looking for help from facilities that have been damaged or destroyed, the UAE-operated field hospital is a rare functioning, well-equipped, well-staffed place that can offer help to the most serious cases.
CNN was able to see their work during the brief visit this week, the first Western media outlet to get access into southern Gaza to report independently.
Israel and Egypt have previously made it next to impossible for international journalists to witness firsthand the toll on civilians. Israel’s military has taken American media, including CNN, on brief escorted trips into northern Gaza.
The human toll of the Israel-Hamas war is on display in room after room of this hospital.
In one room, 20-month-old Amir Taha lies silently on the bed – his fluffy hair sticking up, his baby-soft skin violated by a raw, jagged wound across his forehead. Purple bruises swell around one of his big brown eyes.
He’s an orphan now, his aunt says, with his parents and two of his siblings killed in an Israeli strike – just one attack in the devastating war on Hamas in Gaza.
But he does not know that yet, his aunt Nehaia Al-Qadra told CNN. He is too young to understand.
“They found Amir in his mom’s arms lying in the street,” Al-Qadra said. “His sister died, his brother died, his uncle and his other sister are injured in the hospital… Here we are, he doesn’t have a mother or a father or an older sister or brother. Now it’s just us two and God.”
Amir wants his father. “Yesterday he saw a nurse that looked like his dad, and he kept screaming ‘Dad! Dad! Dad!’” Al-Qadra said. When she needs to calm him, she shows the toddler a video of his father.
In another room, eight-year-old Jinan Sahar Mughari is immobilized in a full-body cast. “They bombed the house in front of us and then our home,” she told CNN. “I was sitting next to my grandfather, and my grandfather held me, and my uncle was fine, so he was the one who took us out.”
Jinan’s skull and leg were broken in the bombing, explains her mother Hiba Mohammed Mughari, who was not at home at the time of the attack.
“I went to the hospital to look for her … I came here, and I found her here.” She encourages her child to talk as she falls silent. Tears streak down her face as she weeps quietly.
Doctors at the UAE field hospital say they find seeing and treating innocent child victims of war especially hard, but they are so busy they cannot dwell on it.
“It’s something that changes your heart,” Dr. Ahmed Almazrouei said of seeing injured children.
Outside, in the streets strewn with trash and rubble from destroyed buildings, the horror of modern warfare is evident. Despite the heavy bombardment, people wander around outside like zombies – perhaps trying to fathom their lives, perhaps with nothing else to do.
Most shops are closed, but there’s a long line outside a bakery. Recent rain has left stagnant water, and the December chill is setting in.
“You don’t have to search for tragedy in Gaza. It finds you on every street,” says Ward.