New Internationalist

500 dead: ‘Mr Obama, do you have a heart?’

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Mads Gilbert, centre, and other doctors treat a child. Facebook under a Creative Commons Licence

Mads Gilbert, a doctor in Gaza’s largest hospital – al-Shifa – writes an open letter as the Palestinian death toll rises steeply.

Dearest friends,

The last night (19-20 July) 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 at all in Shifa hospital 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 [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 – oh – 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 in the last 24 hours. Enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: no electricity, water, disposables, drugs, operating room 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 flow, 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 F16, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made in and paid for 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 per cent, 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 onslaught on Gaza.

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.

Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Professor and Clinical Head
Clinic of Emergency Medicine
University Hospital of North Norway

Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Professor and Clinical Head
Clinic of Emergency Medicine
University Hospital of North Norway
- See more at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/12920-letter-from-gaza-by-a-norwegian-doctor#sthash.hv4SQNiF.dpuf

Hospitals under fire

Since Mads Gilbert wrote this letter on 20 July, Israeli fighter jets have shelled Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Hospital killing at least five people and injuring 50. The hospital was hit on Monday afternoon and is the fourth to be bombed since Israel’s military offensive began on 8 July. Medical staff are planning to evacuate the remaining patients but with hospitals deemed legitimate targets by Israeli forces, there is nowhere safe left to go.

On 17 July Israeli soldiers shelled Gaza’s El-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, a specialist hospital which treats long-term injuries and physical disabilities. With other hospitals either full or destroyed, these patients had to be evacuated to Mujamma al-Sahaba al-Tibbi, a private clinic that lacks vital equipment.

The number of Gazans killed since the start of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge now stands at over 500. 

This is the second article in our mini-series on Palestine.

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