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Middle East - Interview

All 120 patients here are civilians, says Gaza doctor

Article published on the 2009-01-04 Latest update 2009-01-05 15:19 TU

A wounded Palestinian is carried into a hospital in Gaza (Credit: Reuters)

A wounded Palestinian is carried into a hospital in Gaza
(Credit: Reuters)

Civilians have been caught in the crossfire in the nine-day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip. Hospitals are running extremely low on supplies, blood and even fuel to run generators. Doctor Abdullatif al Haj, director of the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip told RFI that because the roads are under fire by tanks, cars and ambulances transporting injured people cannot reach hospitals.

Although planes can distinguish ambulances from above, tanks cannot see whether vehicles are cars or ambulances, said Dr al Haj.

"All of the 120 patients we have received today, all are civilians,” he told RFI. “Children, women, men - all of them are not militants.”

Interview: Doctor Abdullatif al Haj, Director of the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis southern Gaza Strip

04/01/2009 by Rosslyn Hyams

The European Commission has announced three million euros in emergency aid for the Gaza Strip and has urged Israel to create what it calls a humanitarian space for the delivery of vital aid.

Hospitals in Gaza are stretched, some beyond their limits, by so many casualties. The aerial bombing, and now the tank fire, makes it dangerous even for medical staff to get to where they need to be.

"We have problems in the hospital now," said Dr al Haj, who said the generator had been working more than 16 hours straight, and "there is a risk of burning the generator at any time". He added that the hospital has only one emergency generator.

"We are suffering from a shortage of staff," he said. "Senior surgeons couldn't come from Gaza City, for example, even by ambulance.”

He said the hospital would be overwhelmed by a surge of wounded people. It is currently handling 16 injured patients.

Khan Younis is roughly 25 to 30 kilometres from Gaza City. The European Gaza Hospital, with 207 beds, is one of the larger hospitals in the south. There is another, small hospital in Rafah, near the border of Egypt, said Dr al Haj.

Last week critical cases were sent to Egypt, but today, with Rafah crossing under fire, the passage is closed and no one can leave.