December 11, 2023

On daily basis I desperately attempt to contact my colleagues in Gaza: Docs, nurses, paramedics, therapists and healthcare directors, all a part of the Palestinian American Medical Affiliation’s applications within the tiny besieged coastal enclave that’s been below cruel Israeli bombardment for over a month.

Dr. Yousef Khelfa is an oncologist in Sonora, California, and co-founder and former president of the Palestinian American Medical Affiliation. (Picture courtesy of Dr. Yousef Khelfa.)

A couple of nights in the past, I lastly reached my pal Riham. She instructed me about her household’s dilemma: Do all of them stay in a single home and danger the entire household being worn out in a single Israeli airstrike? Or ought to she and her husband cut up up and divide their children between them to extend the prospect that some will survive?

Riham instructed me that she and her husband determined to hunker down in separate locations, hoping that not less than certainly one of them will stay alive to care for his or her youngsters who make it by.

My hand shook as I hung up the cellphone. I’m a health care provider and my frequent travels to Gaza deal with well being care. I’m additionally a father. I can’t think about my spouse, children and me being pressured to make an analogous alternative.

From my California dwelling, I watch information of the Israeli bombardment of a trapped inhabitants of two.2 million folks, over half of them youngsters.

4,100 youngsters useless

At the very least 4,100 youngsters are among the many greater than 10,000 folks which were killed in Gaza previously month, the Gaza Well being Ministry mentioned on Monday. A whole bunch extra are buried beneath the rubble, presumed useless.

U.S. President Joe Biden known as humanitarian help “a crucial and pressing want.” But he continues to ship weapons to Israel to proceed pummeling Palestinians in Gaza, whereas uttering toothless statements concerning the significance of defending civilian life, which Israel ignores.

I personally knew tons of of kids in Gaza from the psychosocial rehabilitation work we do there. I laughed with them; they instructed me their hopes and goals. I hugged them goodbye earlier than I departed after my final journey, simply 5 months in the past.

How might killing these youngsters presumably be justified as “self protection?” This justification can solely occur in a world that has so totally dehumanized Palestinians that our kids are now not seen as youngsters.

Rising up below brutal Israeli navy occupation within the West Financial institution metropolis of Nablus, subjected to checkpoints and curfews, I skilled first-hand being handled as lower than human. The escalating Israeli rhetoric and violence in opposition to us has gone ignored and unchallenged by Western governments for many years. And now, our kids are paying the worth with their lives.

Father and a health care provider

I preserve imagining how Dr. Mohamed Abu Musa will need to have felt when he discovered that his dwelling was bombed and his son killed. The physician, whose story has been internationally broadcast, works on the emergency room of Nasser Medical Complicated in Southern Gaza. He had been on the hospital for 10 days straight, treating numerous critically wounded folks.

I think about being in his footwear, overwhelmed with the horror, not in a position to go dwelling and see my household. I can really feel the wave of panic that may wash over me as I spot my spouse, frantically describing our son to the ER nurses. “His title is Yousef, he’s 7 years outdated, he has truthful pores and skin with curly hair, he’s good-looking.” I think about a nurse finding my baby’s physique below a shroud, certainly one of many corpses piled up within the hall.

After which, I want to dam out these photographs. I’m a father, sure, however I’m additionally a health care provider. Even earlier than the bombardment started, Gaza’s well being care was in a dire scenario resulting from 16 years of Israel’s unlawful siege and naval blockade and 55 years of Israeli navy occupation.

Hospitals and clinics had power shortages of remedy, medical provides and diagnostic tools corresponding to X-ray machines. Restricted electrical energy impacted every little thing from surgical procedures to dialysis. The siege restricted each facet of every day life together with stopping Palestinians from with the ability to journey, and controlling what items might enter Gaza.

As Israel started bombarding Gaza, the Israeli authorities additional tightened the siege, reducing off water, meals, electrical energy and gas.  Previously 4 weeks, Israel killed 192 medical professionals, together with lots of my mates and colleagues, and lots of extra have been displaced, forcing hospitals to perform with a fraction of their employees. As well as, Israeli bombs broken or destroyed 120 well being care amenities and 40 ambulances. One-third of the hospitals and two-thirds of main well being care clinics are now not functioning. Others are on the verge of closing. The rationed gas for turbines is sort of gone.

Well being care disaster