“The world has come together to eliminate us,” says Gaza doctor

“The situation is more than catastrophic. We are running out of services, we are running out of electricity. We are running out of medicines. We are running out of everything, we cannot deal with our patients.”

Those are the words of Dr. Nour al-Haydi, a physician at al-Shifa hospital, speaking to Al Jazeera in a short documentary the network published on Wednesday, “Gaza’s Al Shifa: A hospital on the brink.”

Al-Shifa is Gaza’s largest hospital and emergency medical center.

The 23-minute film documents the situation at al-Shifa as fuel, electricity, medication and basic supplies are running out while Israel continues to carpet bomb the Gaza Strip with the full backing and support of the West.

Heroic physicians, nurses and hospital staff are overwhelmed trying to treat the thousands of patients and their families – many who are chronically ill already – with scarce resources due to Israel’s relentless bombing and refusal to allow food, water and basic necessities into the coastal enclave.

At the same time, every hallway, room, stairway and corner of the hospital’s grounds is packed with families displaced from their homes by the incessant bombing, seeking shelter in a place they hope will be safe. They all need water, food, sanitation and access to medical care as well.

In al-Shifa’s neonatal department, dozens of premature infants are dependent on incubators and artificial respirators – powered by electricity – to survive.

Along with medicine, fuel for the hospital’s generators are running low. If there is a power outage, the head of the neonatal department says “a disaster will occur within five minutes.”

“[We have] 40 incubators, but today we have 65 babies,” says Dr. Nasser Bulbul, who explains that his staff are treating the tiny, fragile babies with extremely limited resources.

“We have exceeded our capacity. We’re suffering a shortage of basic medicines. We’ll run out of all medicines in this department in a day or two.”

Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a plastic surgeon at al-Shifa, tells Al Jazeera that unless the international community intervenes, Palestinians in Gaza are heading toward “an absolute disaster.”

The Israelis “are trying to force a collapse of the health system,” he says.

“If the electricity runs out, then al-Shifa will become a mass grave.”

Watch the entire documentary above.

Dispatch from the burn unit

“This is our major burn unit in Gaza,” says Dr. Ahmad al-Makhlati, a physician at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. He says that the unit only has ten beds, but that there are more than 70 patients who need critical medical intervention.

“Our capacity is full, we can’t deal with the extensive burns. We leave them. We know they need the ICU intubation, ICU management, they need a lot of surgeries, [but] our capacity in the theaters are limited, our ICU beds are limited, so we’re just watching them dying in front of our eyes and we can’t do anything.”

Al-Makhlati recorded a video on 24 October. He notes that patients are arriving with multiple traumatic injuries as well as severe burns “down to the bone,” suggesting that Israel is using new kinds of weapons against Palestinians.

“Usually, in these kinds of airstrikes or bombings they use just shrapnels as a killing method. … I think they keep trying new weapons on the people of Gaza. They feel like this is a [testing] field,” he says.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health reported Tuesday that at least 65 medical staff have been killed.

Israel has destroyed 25 ambulances, the ministry added.

On Wednesday, the ministry stated that more than 12 hospitals and 25 primary healthcare centers have closed “due to a lack of supplies and direct attacks.”

Moreover, ambulance units “are no longer able to reach the sick and injured in the bombing sites due to the targeting of ambulances and paramedics, and the Civil Defense is no longer able to evacuate the martyrs and wounded under rubble due to the loss of fuel and the lack of equipment it has,” the ministry said.

“Broken roads prevent the patients or the injured from even reaching hospitals by civilian cars.”

Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician who for years has worked alongside doctors and nurses in Gaza and is still waiting to enter from Cairo, reported on what he called the “catastrophic disaster” of the healthcare system on The Electronic Intifada’s livestream earlier this week.
Gilbert shared with The Electronic Intifada a message from his colleague at Al Quds hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday.

“The situation is very bad in general, there are many martyrs, many, many are under the rubble and cannot be recovered and are dying, families destroyed,” the physician texted.

“The situation in government hospitals is so bad that it cannot accommodate the large number of wounded. The wounded [are] on the roads and outside the hospital. The wounded wait a long time for operations. Tomorrow, a massacre could occur in hospitals if fuel, supplies, and medical staff are not available. Dr. Mads, the situation is out of control in hospitals. The wounded are dying and colleagues are very exhausted. Nobody [helps] us. The world has come together to eliminate us.”

Meanwhile, doctors and nurses at Al Awda hospital in northern Gaza recorded this video of themselves singing and pledging to stay with their patients.

“We will stay here until the pain is over … We will live here and we will keep singing.”


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).