War on Gaza: Al-Shifa Hospital

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A region bursting with agony, horror, insecurity, and, contradictorily, resistance and cause is suffering another tragedy! Gaza was attacked another time this year by the Occupation. It is July 19, 2014, and we go to Al-Shifa hospital to hear the sad stories of patients, doctors, nurses, activists, and journalists and witness heartbreaking scenes bearing witness to the escalating brutality of the Occupation. Al-Shifa hospital is the largest medical complex and central hospital of Gaza. Now it has assumed other functions amidst the conflict; here is how doctors describe Al-Shifa, “a de-facto refugee camp, shelter, local hangout, and target.” Through this exclusive documentary we experience a full range of casualties during a night at Al-Shifa. Here we smell blood, death, and faraway torture. We see how innocent people from different ages die every day and night.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ayman Sahabani:“Her family is Al-Bakri; she’s three months old. Let the world see her. These are the targets the Israeli occupation claim to be terrorist. This is the army’s language but the whole world should see this child and decide whether she is a terrorist or a target as the Israeli Occupation claims.”

Narration: Al-Shifa Hospital downtown Gaza City is the biggest hospitals. It is the most important and popular around the strip, especially in wartime under tight siege. In 19 July 2014, our story with Al-Shifa Hospital starts when the war machines of the Israeli occupation army invaded the Gaza strip. This war results on large numbers of casualties; people who are torn, bleeding, and dying every day. They are of different ages and innocent.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Omar Abu-Alnaja, Civilian Caualty: “I was spending the night at my uncle’s house. I slept and did not know what was going on around me. Suddenly, the house roof fell on me, and the stones too. I tried to creep after that to get out of the place. Then my brother came and hardly took me out. A man from Abu-Amra family took me and wrapped my leg with a scarf to stop the bleeding. They took me in an ambulance to Al-Aqsa hospital where they stitched my wounds. I cannot bear the pain. May Allah avenge from the Israeli occupation.”

Narration: In Al-Shifa Hospital, the medical crews work 24 hours in spite of the heart-breaking scenes. They are trying to save what can be saved under severe shortages of equipment and medical supplies as well as power cuts. Whoever does not know the truth has to spend a night in the hospital through this documentary, and then they will know what really happened. While walking around the hospital’s buildings and corridors, you will meet some internationals. This is “Fred” a journalist moving between the corridors and the rooms. He is filming what he sees and hears of the stories of those who were wounded. He seeks to sending a message from Al-Shifa hospital talking about what happened to those people as a result of the land invasion of the Gaza Strip.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Ahlam Wahdan, Eyewitness: “We are from Wahdan family from Al Boura area. We fled when the Israeli Occupation invaded our area. Eight people from my family remained behine. We went to the shelters, which were UNRWA schools. When we were inside the school, the Israeli army bombed it, so we escaped to another school. However, we remained scared of being bombed again. So we rented a house from Abu-Alkomsan family. During the first night, we were bombed again while the children were sleeping. The children were wounded and four family members were killed, one of them was the mother of these three children. Their father lost his leg and he is now at the intensive care unit in a dangerous condition. My aunt was killed and another small girl. The bodies of the eight people we left at Al Boura area in Beit Hanoun were taken from under the rubble. This means that 12 people were killed from the family, and other 10 were wounded.”

Narration: “Fred” keeps moving between the rooms, then enters another room. There he finds a two-year-old baby girl who has a different story with the Israeli occupation’s rockets.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Om Raghad, Eyewitness:“We are the neighbors of Khattab family. This family was targeted on 3 August 2014. They were targeted with a first missile, seconds later; a second rocket hit the two-storey house and destroyed it. 16 people used to live in the house, 7 of them were killed. They are her father, mother, two aunts, uncle, grandfather and grandmother. Now she’s alone.”

Narration: “Fred” could not bear what he heard and saw, so he decided to leave with the two stories he had. We decided to stay and entered the intensive care unit that was filled with casualties. We listened to “Haneen’s” story.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Conversation between Atta and Haneen

Atta Almzaini: “Haneen, what were you doing when the bombing happened? Where were you?

Where were you sitting?

What was everybody doing?

Were you baking bread because you had no bread?

What happened after that?

Were you bombed?

All your siblings were with you

Your mother and all your siblings

Alright alright

She knows nothing about her family

Her little brother

Yes, Uncle.

They are all fine and waiting for you to go out in good condition.

They are all fine; your mother, brothers and sisters

They did not come yet because you are in the intensive care unit. Tomorrow when you got out, they will come to visit you and feed you.

They are home now and cannot come here

They are at the neighbors’ house and in the morning, they are coming to see you

Okay sleep now and they will be here in the morning.

I hope you get better soon.

Are there any martyrs?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Haneen Al-Bakri:


I was

At home

We were baking bread because we had no bread


We were bombed



Did any of my siblings die?

Where are they now, uncle?

What house do you mean?

Thank you.”

Narration: Words are perhaps incapable of telling the stories from the hospital, but the biggest challenge for any visitor is bearing what they hear and see. Escaping outside the hospital is the only way to breathe again. However, there was another surprise as many people were in the roads and under the buildings. Every one of them had a story too.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Mahmoud Abu-Saif, War Victim: “I am a barber. I carry my equipment and cut people’s hair. I provide service to the homeless and the wounded at the hospital departments. Yesterday, I shaved the hair of two wounded men in the Internal Medicine Division. We have to cut our hair to remain clean and avoid being sick. There’s no power except for in the hospital, and we use power to run the shaving device too. There is nowhere safe but the hospital. I also go to the schools and help those who left their homes.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Um Rami Al-Shawish, War Victim: “We are in Al Shifa Hospital. We’ve been here since the beginning of the war. Alhamdulillah, there is nothing between us and the occupation’s planes but this tent. We sleep and eat here. Allah knows about what we suffer because of food and drinks’ shortage, specially, the water children need. There’s no enough water to stop their thirst.”

Narration: wherever you go in Al-Shifa hospital, you find nothing but pain and suffering. Some of the visitors go to hospital’s library seeking rest to be able to write news or stories about what happens in the hospital.

Narration: since the beginning of the war on the Gaza Strip, these internationals have been staying with others in the hospital all the time. That is because the Israeli occupation has informed that hospital that it will be bombed and destroyed. The next morning has come without anything happened to the hospital. With the beginning of the new day, the hospital looks quiet. This is “Denny” moving around the hospital to inform whoever interested in his country with what happens in Gaza.

“Denny” continues walking in the corridors of a department, heading to the rooms of casualties he has visitedto check on them.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Nasrallah Abu-Karsh, War Victim:“I am here because the Israeli occupation bombed us. I was standing next to our neighbor’s car, near a store. The occupation’s army fired a missile toward us. I flew in air and fell down. Then I was taken to Al-Shifa Hospital.

There are wounds all over my body; in my belly, hands, and head. My whole body is wounded.”

Narration: “Denny” left the room upset, but there was something to drew attention in the view from the window. What cannot be seen at night becomes clear in daytime. That was the hospital’s garden filled with tents; reminding everyone of the exile of the 1948 catastrophe.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Shaher Hillis, War Victim:“I talked about this many times. When they ask me: What does the war remind you of? I say that it reminds me of what happened in 1948 when we left our house. It was the same situation now. We were running and did not know where to go. Some of us were barefoot and children were crying and running; as if we were living the 1948 catastrophe again.”

Narration: After we were done filming the Shifa Refugees Camp, we were informed a German delegation has arrived to the hospital to help the medical crews. We went to follow up with the delegation, but found that each of them was busy working with the medical crews. The delegation was surprised with the difficulty of work in the hospital that they think, contains old equipment and devices as if they were borrowed from a museumof old hospital.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Gazi Ashker, Orthopedic Specialist: We are now at Al Shifa hospital; the biggest hospital in the Gaza Strip. As you know, it’s experiencing war. We are a group of many doctors who work in Germany. We have different specialties and we came from Germany to Gaza to help the casualties and provide medical care. We have been here for four weeks.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Said Taramsi , General Surgery Specialist: ‘There’s severe shortage of medical equipment. I don’t know what to say about this primitive surgery room. However, I am confident that this room is not classified as a surgery room in Germany. There are no anesthesia appliances and care as required.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Mohammed Banat – Nerves Surgery Specialist: “A seven-year-old girl was wounded 16 days ago. She was shot in the neck, and the bullet entered from the right side through the backbone and exited from the left side. She is paralyzed because of that and cannot move her arms and legs. If she had been wounded in Germany, we would’ve helped her as soon as possible and she would’ve had a chance to be fine. But in such case and after a long time, because of the shortage of facilities, unfortunately there’s no chance to help her.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Gazi Ashker, Orthopedic Specialist: “We should say that our doctor fellows at Al Shifa hospital were able to achieve a lot under these exceptional circumstances. They were very organized and did a good job we look forward to do back in Germany. I don’t know, if a similar war had started in a German province, how would we be able to deal with such a tragic problem.”

Narration: the disaster is not over yet al shifa hospital is still housing many of those who became homeless after they lost their homes, casualties are arriving along with martyrs were turned into shreds inside bags with no names yet, the wounded in the hospital suffer because if the severe shortage of medical equipment as a result of the siege emposed on the Gaza strip during this ongoing war.  


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