Lebanon hospital treats Adam, first wounded Gazan to arrive in Beirut

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Five-year-old Adam Afana dreamt of being a police officer "to keep people safe," his uncle said, before losing his father, his siblings and cousins, and nearly all of his left arm in an Israeli strike seven months ago on Gaza.

Now, Adam is the first Palestinian child wounded in Israel's war in Gaza to land in Lebanon, where he has been receiving care since Monday at the American University of Beirut's Medical Center with help from the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children's Fund.

In a sunlit room in the hospital, Adam plays with superhero action figures and watches videos on an iPad. He laughs, pokes fun at his uncle and the nurses, but only has stilted answers when asked about his journey to safety in Beirut.

"He remembers how he was wounded, his sister and his father - how they were all together. And he starts crying - it's difficult for him psychologically," said his uncle Eid Afana, 29, his caregiver in Beirut.

Getting him to Lebanon was no easy task: Adam spent more than six weeks in Gaza after he was wounded, sheltering from bombing and undergoing one emergency surgery on his arm without anaesthesia.

In early December, his uncle managed to enter Gaza City for just two days from Egypt to bring Adam and his mother out via the Rafah crossing. "It was my city and I couldn't even recognise it. The European hospital was full of people being treated on the floor... The floor was a lake of blood, just body parts. It was a disaster," Afana told Reuters.

They were lucky: Israel's attack this month on Rafah has cut off the main crossing into Egypt, constricting aid and stopping what had been a trickle of people leaving for medical help.

The family spent nearly six months in Egypt, but Adam's arm needed specialised care. Thus began the campaign to get him to Lebanon, a country with a precarious sectarian balance and complex history with Palestinian refugees, with severe restrictions on which can enter.

AUB President Fadlo Khoury told reporters earlier this week the university had "extensive discussions" with Lebanese authorities to allow Adam entry - and that they hoped he would be the first of more Palestinian children to benefit from the hospital's expertise in treating war trauma.

Dania Dandashli from the Ghassan Abu Sittah Children's Fund told Reuters the organisation hoped to treat a total of 50 war-wounded Palestinian children in Lebanon over the next year.

Israel's ground and air campaign in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 people, including thousands of children, and wounded more than 81,000, health authorities in Gaza say.

The war was triggered by an attack by Hamas militants on Israeli that killed 1200, with more than 250 hostages taken, by Israeli tallies.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily, Emilie Madi and Ahmad Kerdi; Editing by Sharon Singleton)