Gaza's main hospital struggles to stay functioning 2009-01-03 20:17:32   Print

Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts     

Smoke and fire are seen after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip December 27, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
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    by Saud Abu Ramadan

    GAZA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The sudden and violent beginning of Israel's areal onslaught into Gaza Strip was bigger that the emergency plans drawn up earlier by the Palestinian health care system, Gaza doctors say.

    The crisis emerged widely in al-Shifa hospital, the only main sanatorium for Gaza's 1.5 million population. The hospital's floors were colored in red, and also the grass in its yard, as doctors and volunteers offered first aid to hundreds of wounded people on the floor.

    "We have got more than 500 case in the hospital in the first minutes of the attacks and, in later hours, the number dramatically rose, exceeding the 585-bed capacity of the hospital," said Raed al-Arini, a spokesman for the al-Shifa hospital.

Palestinians carry a wounded woman in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 31. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
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    At one of the operation rooms, three wounded persons laid to undergo surgeries at the same time, though the facility is prepared to deal with one case. "There is only six operation rooms in the hospital," says Dr. Basel Baker, director of the surgery at the hospital.

    "Tens of serious cases were thrown in the yards of the hospital on the first couple of days and we were unable to know who needed a surgery, "I have not seen such thing in Gaza in my career," the 54-year-old surgeon recalled.

    The Israeli intensive attacks in Gaza killed up to 430 Palestinians since their start on Dec. 27, more than half of them died on the first day of the offensive as the warplanes launched simultaneous strikes at tens of police and security stations across the coastal enclave.

    According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), 165 Hamas policeman were among the dead, the majority of them passed away when their posts were bombed.

    The strikes continued, adding houses and mosques to their range of fire.

    Outside the operation room, three children of Hedaya al-Arini, were crying as they waited to hear news about their mother, seriously hurt when an F16 fighter jet struck at a house of a Hamas activist in Gaza city on Thursday. "The rocket (shrapnel) cut my mother's legs and demolished our house," screamed Huda, the12-year-old daughter as tears flowed over dark red spots the shrapnel and debris made on her face.

    "We are poor and our house is modest, its ceiling is made of very fragile sheets of asbestos that fell on us when we were asleep," she added as she tried to relief her younger brothers.

    The nonstop arrival of wounded and dead bodies, by ambulances and civilian vehicles, caused shocked among the doctors who have been locked in the hospital for more than a week. A nurse at the reception did not control herself and went crying crazily after she saw pile of flesh brought in on a stretcher.

    Fawzi al-Nabulsia, director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), said most of the cases they received were clinically dead. "Most of them are injured in the head and heart," he affirms.

    He also warns that the hospital suffers from shortage in most of the medical supplies that are needed in the day-to-day work. The same warning was released by the health ministry, which says that 105 sorts of the medicines have ran out, in addition to 220 apparatuses stopped due to lack of spare parts.

    As the electricity is cut most of the time, the doctors say the fuel is running out, adding more troubles to the work of the medical teams who, from the outset, do their job in extra ordinary circumstances.    

Editor: Chris
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