How a Gaza physician escaped Israeli patrols and snipers in al-Shifa

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Jawdat Sami al-Madhoun eventually left after seeing his friend’s death and comforting a young kid who want to pass away with her parents.

Gaza Strip’s Deir el-Balah When the gates of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital materialized in front of Jawdat Sami al-Madhoun, he was almost taken aback by the sight. The 26-year-old medical assistant was able to escape Gaza City’s besieged al-Shifa Hospital and make the 16-kilometer (10-mile) trek to Deir el-Balah on foot.

For the preceding twenty-five days, Jawdat had been volunteering at al-Shifa’s emergency room. He and the other staff members had struggled to provide the injured with the best care possible, sometimes without the most basic equipment and medications.

He looked aside as his voice shook and said to Al Jazeera on Monday, “We couldn’t help the wounded.” “They had to die! There was nothing we could do to help them. All we could do was watch them go down.

Hundreds of dead are scattered around the hospital’s courtyard. Not even burying them was an option.

A hospital where the ill are left unaided
Since Friday, Israeli troops have surrounded Al-Shifa, preventing anybody from entering or leaving the area housing the biggest and oldest hospital in Gaza. Israeli soldiers stormed it on Wednesday, saying that within was a command center for Hamas fighters. Thus yet, such allegation has not been substantiated.

On Saturday, the hospital’s energy supply completely failed, stopping all of its medical equipment and putting 39 preterm newborns at risk of having their incubators malfunction.

Seven infants have passed away since then, and the number is growing because the hospital is still not operating. At least 179 dead remains have been buried in the courtyard by medical staff.

According to Jawdat, going between the medical facilities on the property posed a threat to one’s life since Israeli snipers would shoot at anyone who moved.

“I volunteered,” he declared. “I would greet individuals, evaluate certain situations, and provide assistance to those in need.” Although I didn’t complete my nursing education, I studied for approximately a year and a half, so I wanted to help in any way I could.

“One day, four adorable young girls entered; the eldest was around thirteen years old, and there was just one injury on her body. Jawdat paused again, bowing his head and wailing. “They came in with their dead family, father, mother, brother. We did what we had to do and buried them.”

“The injured little girl cried, ‘Please, Uncle, let me die with them,’ looking at me. I have no idea how I would manage without my brother and mom.

“We got a 12-year-old child the next day who had been severely injured in an incident that had claimed his family’s lives. He used to ask, “Can you either make me better or let me go [die] with them?” whenever he saw me.

“I’m not sure where we found the energy to do this task. We must all have been given the strength to persevere by God. The physicians were operating in a panic. If they could just save one more kid or person, they would work for three or four days straight without stopping to sleep.

“I was shocked to discover my buddy Islam al-Munshid, who was severely hurt, in the reception area one day. It turned out that he had sustained wounded during the Israeli raid on al-Shifa gate the previous day, and I had missed him in the stream of casualties that were being reported. When I asked the physicians how he was doing, they informed me that although his body was still breathing, his brain had died. Say a prayer for him to be at peace.

I would go check on him every hour for three days, or seventy-two hours, to make sure he was still breathing, until at last he passed away.

“We were unable to take any action. We could have assisted him if we had even the smallest piece of equipment, but because we lacked anything, there was nothing we could have done. Due to two fractures in his skull, he would have required immediate surgery to preserve his life, but we were unable to do so.

A family split apart
Like many families in Gaza, Jawdat and his wife May had chosen to remain apart in the hopes that as many people as possible would withstand the constant Israeli bombing and be able to come together at a later time.

She was in Gaza City on May 23, but Jawdat was unable to go to her due of snipers, tanks, and sporadic explosions in the streets.

As they spoke about May, Jawdat’s anxiety overcame him, and he started crying once more at the idea that he would not see his wife again.

Though he was aware that he could not have possibly contacted her in Gaza City, the realization that she had not responded to any of his messages for several days and that he had not heard from her for three days was too much for him to bear.

His thoughts shifted to Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, where he had finally persuaded his mother to go on Friday, since he was desperate to be with his relatives there.

Despite having renal problems, my mother said she would never leave her city. “If we, the people of this land, leave it, who will be left to take care of it?” she would ask me.

“But her life and her were in such danger because of her continuous presence there.”

He felt confused and powerless at al-Shifa without his family.

It was impossible for us to help the injured. No supplies, no oxygen, and no gauze are present. We were limited to tending to their wounds. A small amount of oxygen was all that some of the deceased required to survive.

He claimed that the only time they felt relief was when the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assisted them in relocating the preterm infants, who were all carefully wrapped in order to maintain their warmth in the absence of incubators.

Jawdat stated, “We were given an hour by the ICRC to relocate the premature babies from the maternity ward to the reception hall.”

Additionally, they warned us not to approach the windows for fear of being shot. He remarked cynically, “Of course, we were so very ‘grateful’ to them for that warning.

“A tiny bit of bravery”
Along with a group of displaced persons who had taken refuge at al-Shifa, Jawdat left the hospital with the goal of escaping Israeli soldiers, tanks, and snipers all the way south.

He was aware of the dangers.

Six instances with injuries were brought into the hospital on Monday morning. The Israeli soldiers had instructed them to evacuate the building they were in, but not before they had been shot. They were shot as soon as they left, according to Jawdat.

However, he had heard that a prior batch that had departed earlier that day had survived.

“Despite reports of being fired at, they managed to get south. A modicum of bravery, they remarked. It requires a small amount of bravery.

Three shots were fired at Jawdat and his friends, who fled each time to attempt to elude the snipers. The slower members of the group eventually fell behind, while others parted at other junctions.

Jawdat and a few others were halted by Israeli troops at one point, and they were forced to stand with their hands raised and their IDs in front of them. According to Jawdat, one man scratched his head and the Israeli forces beckoned him over. He doesn’t know what transpired to him following that.

Another instance involved “taking about twenty men, stripping them naked, beating, and humiliating them before releasing them.” It seems as though the troops would choose someone to harass and degrade whenever they became bored.

That was hardly the worst thing Jawdat witnessed while driving. He claimed that as he hurried passed the bodies, he saw a woman in her 50s lying dead on the ground fully dressed in her prayer attire and a young girl’s severed foot.

Finally, Jawdat reached Deir el-Balah. He is unsure of the number of those that left al-Shifa as well.


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