MIL-OSI Submissions: Gaza – “We did not have time to bury them” Testimony from an MSF doctor in Gaza

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Source:  Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)

11 June, 2024: On the morning of Saturday 8 June 2024, Israeli forces heavily bombed the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip, including Al-Nuseirat refugee camp. These deadly Israeli attacks reportedly killed at least 270 Palestinians and left about 700 wounded according to the local health authorities. 

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams, along with medical staff at Al-Aqsa and Nasser hospitals, treated hundreds of severely injured patients, many of whom were women and children.

One of our colleagues, who has been working as a medical doctor with MSF since 2013 and lives in Al-Nuseirat camp, recalls that horrific and traumatising day when he lost many of his friends and neighbours.

“On the day of the attacks, I lived through three hours of real terror and fear. For one endless hour I did not know where my eldest son was. He went to the market, and in a few minutes, everything had turned upside down. Minutes felt like hours.

There were sounds of missiles and explosions everywhere. We didn’t know what was happening. Everyone was screaming and running away in every direction. We could hear the sirens from the ambulances. It felt as if it was the end of the world.

I stood up to see if my son had come back and I realised he had left his phone at home. I went to the street screaming, ‘Where is my son? Where is my son?’ My family tried to get me back into the house. I screamed so much that I lost my voice.

One hour later, my son arrived home. The sight of fear and terror on his face… I have never seen this on a human being. He was barely able to speak. He said, ‘Dad, people have been blown into pieces! Children, women… why is it like this, Dad?’

I hugged him and cried and cried. For the first time, I felt weak.

After that, I went to Al-Awda clinic, in Deir al Balah, which is only a few metres away from my home. I saw dozens and dozens of people lying on the ground. Some of them were dead, others injured. One ambulance arrived carrying three people who had been killed and four others who were wounded. My eyes were full of tears.

One of my colleagues called me. His brother had been hit by shrapnel in the back. He told me he was throwing up blood. He kept asking what he should do. But what could I do? There was no ambulance available. I told him to tie a piece of cloth around the wound to pressure the injury, and to pray for him that he stays alive.

Dozens of people were killed. We did not have time to bury them.

Many were my neighbours, friends or relatives. Men, women, children. Raneem, who was the daughter of one of my close friends, and her father, were both killed. She was preparing herself to study medicine in Egypt. Last time I saw her, she smiled at me and asked, ‘Uncle, will MSF recruit me once I complete my studies?’

Mahmoud was a great young man, too. He used to help me a lot in the garden with the planting and farming. The day before he got killed, he picked up the wood in front of the house and set a fire to cook noodles for his children. He told me, ‘You know, now I make noodles better than Maqluba [a famous Palestinian dish].’ Mahmoud was also killed on Saturday.

Rami was a simple fisherman. The day before the attack he said to me, ‘Be ready, we will go back and swim in the sea again once the war is over.’ Rami was also killed.

The list is too long… and I will never see any of them again.”

MSF Australia was established in 1995 and is one of 24 international MSF sections committed to delivering medical humanitarian assistance to people in crisis. In 2022, more than 120 project staff from Australia and New Zealand worked with MSF on assignment overseas. MSF delivers medical care based on need alone and operates independently of government, religion or economic influence and irrespective of race, religion or gender. For more information visit msf.org.au  

MIL OSI – Submitted News