British-Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu Sitta was interviewed by the newspaper Washington post He saw what he saw during the 43 days of the war in Gaza, witnessing what happened to hospitals such as Al-Shifa and Al-Ahly during the relentless Israeli air strikes.
The 54-year-old orthopedic surgeon reportedly said he traveled to Gaza as part of a team of volunteers from Doctors Without Borders on October 9, two days after Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people. Israel promises to “annihilate” Hamas.
Since then, Israel has continued to launch attacks on the Palestinian strip, killing more than 18,800 people, according to the latest death toll released by the movement’s Ministry of Health.
“Everything I’ve done in my life has led me to this point, and this is where I’m supposed to be,” Abu Sita said. “There were many nights when I went to sleep thinking this was where we would end up.”
He described the days he spent in Gaza as “the most challenging and terrifying” of his medical career, noting that they were characterized by witnessing “humanity and love.”
Abu Sita likened the number of wounded and injured people brought to the hospital to a wave: “When you are at sea and the wave comes and covers you, at that moment you try to put your head out of the water, but you can’t, Because the wave is taller than you? … You feel that way. You’re doing surgery and you think you’re doing a good job.” I treated 12 patients, but you know there was an airstrike in the last half hour, causing 70 or 70 people were injured. 80 … many more were injured, and you only treated a few of them. “
During his treatment, he remembered a little girl of 8 or 9 years old, the daughter of a doctor, who was killed along with her two children. The girl was alone because she was seriously injured. “Half her face was missing.” ..Half her nose and eyelids were torn off the bone…When you start these conditions you have to clean them because all the dirt, dust and debris is in the wounds , and cleaning my face and hair to make sure there were no other infections, I saw the little plastic headband in the shape of a flower. “
When you see something like this, he added, “you lose your breath…it completely destroys you.”
He emphasized that despite the horror that the people of Gaza were experiencing, you saw a lot of love because “people began to resist the world of death through acts of love,” becoming an act of “resistance.” He said: “There was a child, 3 years old, we don’t know his name. His legs and arms were amputated, and when he went for a check-up the next day, the woman whose son was injured was in the bed next to him.” He lay on her lap and fed them both, since he had no family. “
When you see people taking in displaced people and allowing them to stay in their homes during the war, these acts of love are always there because they lost their homes because everyone gave up their individualism and everyone returned A communal lifestyle where they share everything: food, medicine and housing, Dr. Abu Sita said.
He added that acts of love and humanity have reached unprecedented limits. For example, one day a barber came to Ahli Hospital and offered to let everyone stay and help, shaving everyone’s beards, noting that “we are turning into cavemen”, mentioning that they were too busy helping others Raising the length of his beard, he said the gesture alone was enough to change everyone’s mood.
He said that as the bombing approached the hospital and the building shook violently, one night he “sat a little alone and he accepted the idea that he was not going to survive… that he was no longer alone”. Worried… He feels at peace with himself and his choices in life. “There is sadness, especially for his youngest son.”
He remembers that all he wanted at the time was “to send voice messages to his kids to make sure they heard his voice on the day he died, which was a frustrating thing. But the messages were fun. Like: I miss you. I love you.”
He confirmed that the decision to leave Gaza was not easy because he had completed a round of surgery at 5 a.m. and was told by the anesthetist, “Anesthesia was no longer needed. We had no choice.”
Gaza authorities announce death toll from Israeli bombing rises
The Hamas government announced on Friday that 18,800 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip since the war with the Hebrew state broke out on October 7.
A day after leaving the hospital to walk to the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, he told Reuters: “It’s a nightmare, to have 500 people injured and to know there’s nothing you can do. It’s the most heartbreaking thing.” Something I once had to do. “
Abu Sita, who spent five hours walking from the hospital to the refugee camp, said he saw “scenes of destruction” with bodies dumped in the streets.
He added that patients in need of treatment were still at Al Ahli hospital, while another hospital in northern Gaza was unable to accommodate them.
“Basically, there are no hospitals operating in the entire northern Gaza right now,” he said.