20 Jul 2014

A doctor writes from Gaza – ‘there are lakes of blood’

Professor Mads Gilbert, who is tending the wounded in Gaza, has written to Channel 4 News with an account of the effects of the Israeli shelling on Saturday night.

The professor, who is from the clinic of emergency medicine at the university hospital of north Norway, is working in Gaza’s Shifa hospital, where the wounded are being taken.

He writes: “The last night 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 to 24-hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads. They care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans.

“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” – or steadfastness – gives me strength. But, 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.

‘Lakes of blood’

“We still have lakes of blood on the floor in the emergency room, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out, 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 than 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hours – enough for a large, well trained hospital with everything. But here, there is almost nothing: 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 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 and the cluttering Apaches.

“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%, 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 in the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.”