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2014-07-14

"We are Human Beings": Gaza Doctor Pleads for End to Israeli Bombing of Civilian Population

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Civilians are bearing the brunt of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip, with civilians accounting for more than 80 percent of the reported casualties. We go to Gaza for a medical update on the injured from Dr. Mona El-Farra, director of Gaza projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance and health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip. El-Farra describes treating severe burns, unexplained wounds that suggest Israel may be using banned weapons, and the trauma endured by Palestinian children. "We are not just numbers, we are human beings," El-Farra says.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue to look at the situation in Gaza, where Israeli Defense Forces and tanks are positioned along the border in the seventh day of Israel’s offensive. In a minute we’ll be joined by two guests who have been monitoring the health situation on the ground in Gaza. As of this morning, the Palestinian death toll has reached at least 172, among them nearly 140 civilians, including 30 children. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, more than 1,200 people have been wounded. Militants in Gaza continue to fire rockets at Israel, though no Israelis have been killed.

We go now to Gaza, where we’re joined by two doctors on the line. Dr. Mona El-Farra is the director of the Gaza projects for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. She’s also the health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip. And Dr. Mads Gilbert is with us. He’s a Norwegian doctor providing medical assistance in Gaza, recently submitted a report to the United Nations on the state of Gaza health sector in 2014.

Let us begin with Dr. Mona El-Farra. Where are you now? And can you talk about the situation where you live and work?

DR. MONA EL-FARRA: Yeah. Hello, Amy. I am in the Red Crescent Society for Gaza Strip. The situation has been quiet since 4:00 in the morning—quiet, I mean, the raids against Gaza. But as you have said, the troops are positioned on the border for any minute to raid Gaza. And the assault against Gaza came on top of a very deteriorating humanitarian situation and a gloomy and ambiguous political situation, as well.

You have mentioned about the children and the number of civilians that have been killed. And I’m very appalled that the international community is buying Israeli lies about civilians and about that they are trying to avoid civilians during the war. This is not true. I am appalled about this.

And there is excessive use of power during this attack. And the cases that the hospital received, it is very severe, and there is burns, severe burns. And it’s unexplained all that our doctors cannot deal with it. So, I’m not sure about if Israel is using experimental weapons like the DIME; I’m not sure; I’ll leave it for Dr. Gilbert to explain about this. But our teams in the hospitals received a lot of amputations and a lot of, as I have said earlier, burns and then head injuries and different sort of wounds. Little one traumatized, the whole nation—the whole children and women and civilians in Gaza are home under home arrest because of the situation and the trauma, of course. And an increasing number of children are complaining of perforated eardrums because of the intensity of the shelling. It has been so severe.

I’m very—I don’t like to talk much about numbers, because you have—although numbers are very important. But I would like to give a message to the world that we are not just numbers: We are human beings with stories, dreams, anger, laughter and everything. And Israel tries to portray the story to the world that it is defending Israel from the Hamas militants. And just let me explain that Hamas was democratically elected in the year 2006. And so, in any place of Gaza, you’ll find hospitals, banks, streets, institutions linked to Hamas. That means that Israel is trying to destroy Gaza as a whole. Hamas is not just about the military wing of Hamas that is exchanging rockets with Israel. There is a population, 1.8 population, under very serious attack. And we hardly sleep, not only us health workers, I mean the population, the whole population, are not sleeping because of the intensity of the attacks.

Beside that, let me do this comparison very quickly. I care for children. I care for civilians everywhere. I am a doctor, and I care for Israeli children, as well. But there is a huge difference between children who are just terrified and in the shelters at the moment and other children who don’t have any shelter, children that don’t have clean water. They don’t—we don’t have shelters to go to, so—and living under a very dire and difficult situation because of lacking everything. There is a huge difference between these two categories. Beside that, up ’til now, zero were killed in the other side.

I am very angry, very appalled. And more attacks by Israel will generate more hatred, more bitterness, and it will never guarantee peace for Israel. That’s all what I’m trying to say at this moment. I’d like to add that hospitals have been attacked, banks, streets, institutions. No place is safe in Gaza. No place is safe at all in Gaza. This morning on my way to the Red Crescent Society in the early hours of the morning, streets are deserted. Even in the afternoon, just a few number of people are outside their homes. So, everybody here is looking for ceasefire, looking for ceasefire, and looking for at least to go back to the truce at the year 2012, with a complete lifting of the siege against Gaza and opening of the borders, and not to be subjected to these attacks every now and again. And it’s going on, this is the third time. And maybe another few words—

AMY GOODMAN: Dr.—

DR. MONA EL-FARRA: I was appalled. Sorry, go ahead.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mona El-Farra, we’re also joined by Dr. Mads Gilbert, the Norwegian doctor who has just come back to Gaza, who submitted a report to the United Nations on the state of health in Gaza.

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