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“We’re Being Exterminated”: Hear One of Dr. Hammam Alloh’s Last Interviews from Gaza Before His Death

StoryNovember 13, 2023
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We feature one of the final interviews with Palestinian doctor Hammam Alloh, who died Saturday when an Israeli artillery shell struck his wife’s home, killing him, his father, brother-in-law and father-in-law. On October 31, Democracy Now! spoke to Dr. Alloh about conditions at Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital, and his decision to continue working, as he called on people in the United States and the rest of the world to take action against Israel’s indiscriminate assault. When asked about why he refused to leave his patients, Dr. Alloh responded, “You think I went to medical school and for my postgraduate degrees for a total of 14 years so I think only about my life and not my patients?”

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

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman.

Nearly 200 medical workers have been reported killed in Gaza since October 7th. Over the weekend, Democracy Now! learned that Dr. Hammam Alloh was killed Saturday when an Israeli artillery shell struck his family home, killing him, his father, his brother-in-law and his father-in-law. Dr. Alloh was a kidney specialist, a nephrologist, who worked at Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza. He was 36 years old. He leaves behind his wife and two children, a 4- and a 5-year-old. Dr. Hammam Alloh spoke to Democracy Now! October 31 in one of his last interviews.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hammam Alloh, you’ve said, “Every day, I see a fear in their eyes that I can’t do much about. It’s very painful. If you have kids, you know how horrible it is not to be able to comfort them, to ensure they are alright, to make them hope for anything beyond living one more day.” If you can talk about that in the hospital, which, as you said, is not just a hospital for sick people? Thousands are taking refuge at Al-Shifa and al-Quds and the other hospitals. And also, we’re talking to you as you just left Al-Shifa. How do you comfort your family? What’s happening to your family as you’re at the hospital?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: I tell them at least we still have a house with a door to close. But many thousand refugees, people like us, who used to live in dignity have no longer houses and no doors to close to protect them as they are surrounded by wastewater, by garbage. They don’t have a liquid, continuous supply of clean water to drink. Many of them have a lot of missing members of their families. They don’t know if they are alive or not. I tell them at least we still have a house to live in, but they don’t have. And surprisingly, my 4- and 5-year-old kids, they accept this as a comfort, as a better situation compared to those refugees living — they are living actually in hospitals, but it’s not like they are living inside the hospital departments. Many of them do not have enough space to go into hospital hallways, so they are living around the buildings and in the garden. So, yeah, surprisingly, my very young kids accept this.

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli military has dropped thousands of pamphlets warning people where you are, in northern Gaza, to leave. Why don’t you go with your family south?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: And if I go, who treats my patients? We are not animals. We have the right to receive proper healthcare. So we can’t just leave.

AMY GOODMAN: The World Health Organization talked about this issue of telling doctors to leave their patients, choosing your own lives over your patients. Can you talk about that choice, since so many patients can’t leave — for example, babies in incubators?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: You think I went to medical school and for my postgraduate degrees for a total of 14 years so I think only about my life and not my patients? I’m asking you, Ma’am. Do you think this is the reason I went to med school, to think only about my life? This is not the reason why I became a doctor.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what’s happening to the hospitals? Just in our headlines today, we talked about, and in the last few days, the attack on the Indonesia Hospital. The Turkish Hospital is the only cancer hospital?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the significance of these places, both as a sanctuary, thousands of people taking refuge, and for patients?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: Yeah. Indonesian Hospital is providing healthcare for over 400,000 citizens in the Gaza Strip. And this part of the Gaza Strip is being split from the rest of the Gaza Strip. If this hospital stops providing care, so we are exposing many thousand Palestinian souls to the dangers of disease and death.

Turkish Hospital, with its very modest capabilities even before war, was the only hospital providing care and medications for cancer patients from around the Gaza Strip. It was airstruck yesterday. I don’t know how many patients and healthcare professionals were wounded. And many patients are dying now because they are not safe with their families to go to receive care and to continue their chemotherapy.

Ministry of Health has declared two hours ago also that the electricity would be cut off from Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital, representing 40% of the healthcare power in the Gaza Strip and providing services for many machine-dependent patients, like the ventilated patients and the hemodialysis patients. So, if electricity is cut out from this hospital, so we are directly deciding those patients are going to necessarily die. Ventilated patients will die in minutes. Dialysis patients will die in hours to days after stopping their hemodialysis. Many patients are now being treated with the modest supplies we have. Many diabetic patients are now being admitted to hospital because of their insulin is not being kept in the refrigerator, so it’s not working. We are out — we ran out of many medications, like antifungal medications. We have a patient who died earlier this week with mucormycosis. This is an invasive, ugly type of fungal infection that killed her because we had no amphotericin to offer her. So, my very simple answer to your question is that death is coming to so many people in the Gaza Strip, in hours to days, if this continues the same way it’s going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Alloh, the Middle East Eye reports on a baby who died, says, “His death certificate has been issued before his birth certificate.” A 1-day-old baby has been killed by Israeli bombing in Gaza. Israel, the military, the government, says that Al-Shifa, your hospital, is Hamas —

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: — the site of Hamas command and control. Can you respond to that, Dr. Alloh?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: I’ve been working this hospital for over two years, and I never saw this. So, I’m no lawyer, I’m no attorney, but this is how I am simply replying. I never saw this for over two years. If this is true, I would see at least a clue.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about the shipments of aid coming in. Normally, in normal times — if there’s ever a normal time in Gaza — over 400 trucks a day. We’re talking about a trickle of trucks now, maybe a dozen, maybe eight in a day. Have you ever seen this aid arriving at the hospital? And can you talk about what you need right now?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: Well, that number you just mentioned that was allowed into Gaza Strip is actually — is actually what you were referring to. It is nothing compared to what we need, nothing compared to the shortage in supplies, machines and medications we are in need for. The only thing, came just as I was leaving the hospital today, was a carton of IV fluid bottles. This is the only thing I saw. And I don’t really know if this came through the aid trucks in the few couple of days, or that was from the stores of the Ministry of Health. In addition, I happened to ask about in the hospital administration, and what they mentioned that was all about the gloves and gauze. And this is not what we are actually only in need for. This is what maybe the least we care for, the least we are in need for. So this is, again, nothing compared to what we are in need for in terms of supplies and medications.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Dr. Hammam Alloh, your message at this point to the United States, where we’re based, and to the world?

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: Actually, the message hasn’t changed since the beginning of this war. First, we need this war to end, because we are real humans. We are no animals. We have the right to live freely.

Second, if you were, and your citizens, to live under these circumstances, what would you do for them? This is what we exactly would like you to do for us as a superpower country, as the United States, because we are really as human as your U.S. citizens are.

We were expecting more — earlier, I mean, solutions for that humanitarian and healthcare catastrophes and the crises, but what we are seeing, mainly through trucks allowed into Gaza, is nothing compared to us. So, we are being exterminated. We are being massly eradicated. And you pretend to care for humanitarian and human rights, which is not what we are living now. To prove us wrong, please do something. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hammam Alloh, speaking to us from Gaza City, where he works at the largest hospital, Al-Shifa Hospital. Please be safe.

DR. HAMMAM ALLOH: I hope I will be. Let’s hope, both together, I will be. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hammam Alloh was speaking from Gaza on Democracy Now! on October 31st in one of his last interviews. He was killed Saturday when an Israeli artillery shell struck his wife’s home, killing him, his father, his father-in-law and his brother-in-law. Dr. Alloh was a kidney specialist who worked at Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza City. He was 36 years old. He leaves behind a wife and two children, a 4- and a 5-year-old. Nearly 200 medical workers have been reported killed in Gaza since October 7th.

And that does it for our show. To see all our interviews with doctors, with residents, with Israeli historians and scholars and peace activists, with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists and academics, human rights lawyers, go to democracynow.org.

Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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