Death of Fatma Barghout
By Gideon Levy
Last Friday evening, Fatma Barghout, the cancer patient I wrote about in this column ("Staying alive," August 13, 2004) died in her home in Gaza. She was treated devotedly by the oncology department of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, but was cruelly harassed by the soldiers at the Erez checkpoint time and again. At the end of the summer Israeli friends took her on a tour - to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Old City of Jaffa, Banana Beach, the Ramat Gan safari, the Ramat Aviv mall, the Carmel market in Tel Aviv and Hayarkon Park (see photo), and saw, astonished, what few of her generation in Gaza have ever seen: green lawns, exclusive stores, fancy restaurants, girls in bikinis - and above all, normal life of the kind she dreamed of but never had.
She returned for repeated, desperate treatments in the hospital, which did not help her. In her last days she asked that her bed be turned around to face in the direction of Mecca. Her captivating smile yielded to a wan grin in a face tormented by pain. When she came through the Erez checkpoint, a place that had been so damaging to her, last Thursday, on her last trip home, she was unconscious. She was 28 years old at her death.
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