Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta: “All the areas around the hospital were being bombed all the time. We then got a call to the emergency room and we were told that the administration and the out patients building had been hit – a lot of families had taken refuge in that area – so we had to go and help.”
Al-Shifa Hospital, July 2014.
During each of Israel’s three major assaults on Gaza, Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta has volunteered as a surgeon at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. A Palestinian reconstructive surgeon, he lives in Lebanon.
This interview with him was conducted by journalist Yazan al-Saadi, and published in the English edition of Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper.
As of August 18, 2014, the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli assault on Gaza has risen to 2,016, including 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men. Wounded: 10,196. The death toll keeps rising as more people die from catastrophic injuries.
A letter from Mads Gilbert, Norwegian emergency room doctor, at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, July 19, 2014. Via Mondoweiss.
Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyeh, after July 19 Israeli air and ground assault.
The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.
The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24 hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment, all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!
Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!).
My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” [endurance, steadfastness] gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.
Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.
More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hours. Enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormously resolute.
And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!
And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16s, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the clattering Apaches [assault helicopters]. So much made and paid in and by the US.
Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?
I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe. I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.
Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.
But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” assault on Gaza. [Dahyia: an Israeli military doctrine in which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure, as a means of inducing suffering for the civilian population].
The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.
Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine
Mads Gilbert volunteers in Gaza. He is Professor and Clinical Head, the Clinic of Emergency Medicine, at the University Hospital of North Norway, in Tromsø, Norway.