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“Please Stop This War Against Us”: Gaza Doctor Begs for World’s Help as Hunger & Disease Spread

StoryDecember 11, 2023
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We get an update from one of the few hospitals still operating in southern Gaza from Ahmed Moghrabi, a doctor at Nasser Hospital, who describes horrific conditions. “I’ve developed [a] psychological disorder,” says Moghrabi, who himself is barely surviving on little food and clean water. “Please stop this genocide against us. Stop this war. Please, please, I beg you.” We also speak with Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency room medical doctor shot by the Israeli military in Gaza in 2018, about the arrests, killings and torture of his fellow medical workers by the Israeli military, and the enormous risk of disease as a consequence of the lack of essential aid and supplies available in the region. He predicts tens of thousands of deaths from starvation, dehydration and infectious disease will soon hit Gaza as Israel’s assault continues in the coming weeks.

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

AMY GOODMAN: United Nations Palestinian aid agency UNRWA is warning society in Gaza is, quote, “on the brink of full-blown collapse” as Israel continues its devastating assault that’s killed 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including over 7,000 children.

We turn now to a doctor in Gaza, Ahmed Moghrabi. He works at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, one of few hospitals still functioning in southern Gaza. We reached him yesterday.

DR. AHMED MOGHRABI: Hello, Deena. Yeah, I am talking to you from the Nasser Hospital — it’s in Khan Younis, south of Gaza — where I’m working as a head of plastic and burn department. It’s been 64 days since the aggression actually started against Gaza. I can tell you here, actually, I’m working since the beginning of this war. Actually, I’m so exhausted. So exhausted. Forty percent of the injured people from explosions are children. They are seriously injured. Actually, this morning — actually, I’m working since early morning 'til midnight every day. Every day we are here at the hospital, actually, it's like a siege, all troops around us.

What is going here actually is real massacres all over around. If you see the pictures and the videos, actually, you will be shocked. There is no words — no words can describe what is going here. What is going here actually is a real genocide. You know, hundreds and thousands of people, actually, are passing away every day because of these attacks. They’re attacking schools. They’re attacking church, mosques, civilians’ areas, everywhere. Everywhere, they’re attacking. Oh my god, I can’t describe what is going here. It’s massacres. Massacres, what is going here. The entire families are wiped out, actually. I don’t know, really. Actually, I became — I developed like psychological disorder to see these children actually are, you know — how to say it? — like — how to say? — I don’t know how. They are burned 'til bone. They are burned ’til bone, children. If you see my [inaudible], you will see all these, you know, horrible — it's horror, horror, horror, what is going here. My god, I hope this will end soon.

I don’t know if anybody could help us. If you hear me — actually, I thought we are alone here in this world. We are living in big prison under siege, actually, and nobody listen to us. Nobody want actually to — how to — to adopt our Palestinian narrative, actually. Everybody listens to the Israeli narrative. Just listen to Palestinian narratives. We are here living under siege in a big prison. We are human being. Me, like you, I’m a human being. I’m a human being. I want to live in peace. I want a better future for my children. Really, this I want. This I want.

You know, actually, Israel is supported by the whole world. You give Israel these mass destruction weapons. But on the other hand, nobody gives us even food. Here, I can’t find food, clean water. Me as a surgeon, I can’t find clean water to drink. I can’t find food. I eat only once a day, Deena. Yes, once a day. I can’t afford my children food. I can’t see my children, because I can’t provide simple, simple, you know, food for living. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t provide this food to my children. We eat once a day, simple rice. You know, my little daughter yesterday, 2 years old, she asked me — you know, she asked me apple, an apple. There’s nothing here. Nothing here.

We are dying from starvation. From everything, we are dying now. All over, actually, they send these rockets over our heads everywhere, every time. Please, please stop this war against us. Please stop the genocide against us. Stop this war. Please, please, I beg you.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi, who works in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which is one of the few hospitals still functioning in southern Gaza.

We end today’s show with Dr. Tarek Loubani, emergency room medical doctor who works at the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario, Canada. In 2018, Dr. Loubani was among 19 medics shot by the Israeli military in Gaza. In October, he was arrested for nonviolently protesting for a ceasefire. He’s a Palestinian refugee, a member of the Glia Project, creating open-source medical devices for low-resource settings.

You hear your colleague in Nasser Hospital talking about not being able to feed his own children, not to mention what’s happening in the hospital, Dr. Loubani. You’re in constant contact with medical staff in Gaza. Tell us what you understand at this point.

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: What Dr. Ahmed is saying is exactly what we’re hearing all across the Gaza Strip from the hospitals there. Really, the situation, it’s not teetering on verging on collapse; it has — the medical system has fully collapsed. And the only reason we are using these words to mitigate the devastation and the absolute collapse is because the absolute bravery and incredible resourcefulness of the Palestinian doctors, who have done just an amazing job trying to provide care for their patients. These are people — these are doctors who themselves, like you said, are starving, literally starving. They themselves are getting killed, are being arrested, are having their families harmed, and still they show up to work every day, like Dr. Ahmed does, bravely and to face a new day of horrors.

AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] are telling doctors to leave their patients, particularly in northern Gaza, and move south. Also, doctors, like the head of a hospital in northern Gaza, are being arrested. Can you talk about what you understand at this point?

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: The arrests are a new dimension here. We’ve always been used to a doctor here and there being killed. However, we’ve had over 250 — I think it might even be up to 300 now — healthcare workers who have been killed during this war on Gaza. As well, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya was one of the first arrested.

But I can tell you the story of one of my students, a young doctor who graduated only a couple of years ago, who I’ve been teaching throughout his residency. He was an emergency medicine doctor. And he was, in fact, the valedictorian, Saleh Eleiwa, the highest-ranking student in his medical class, a delightful human being who had never stopped smiling, and then was arrested because he wouldn’t leave his patients until it was too late. He was at the Al-Shifa Hospital.

That’s the story — his story is one of 41 stories that we have so far. Only a few of them have been released since. What the people who have been released tell us is that they are being tortured right now. They are being, quote, “interrogated.” And I know this because I’ve been in Israeli jails, I’ve been interrogated in those ways, I’ve been tortured, I’ve been beaten. And so I know what they’re experiencing. And that was for me as a young Canadian. Now, what, mind you, these people who the Israelis want to see confessions from, who the Israelis are convinced are doing bad things, despite the fact that all they have done throughout this war and ever is take care of their patients.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Tarek Loubani, if you can talk about the warnings that the death toll could be dwarfed by those who die of diseases now, with the lack of clean water, the close proximity of everyone now being pushed south, diseases like diarrhea, scabies, measles, meningitis, acute viral hepatitis? What do you understand?

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: Before this war, the hospitals in Gaza were full, because things happen to people day by day. And now those chronic diseases, the people with those chronic diseases, like diabetes or diseases that need medications or cancers, those patients are all starting to die. It’s been two, going on three months now that they haven’t been able to receive proper care. And that means proper medical care.

Now, the foundations of life aren’t proper medical care; they’re water, they’re food, they’re psychological safety. And so people are starting to die from those things, as well. We’ve already had our first starvation deaths. Predictably, they’re in the very young and the very old. And as time goes on, we will see these deaths start to come in from the margins, come in from people who are sick and vulnerable, to everybody, because right now the normal Palestinian has not — in Gaza, has not been able to eat or drink for weeks, if not months. When we’re talking about the treatment of many of these problems that they’re facing right now, the treatment is proper food, it’s rest, it’s clean water. And those things are not available. So, yes, the predictions right now is that in the next few weeks it will be like falling from a cliff, and we will see 20,000, 30,000 people dying.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Tarek Loubani, I want to thank you for being with us, Canadian Palestinian emergency room doctor, joining us from London, Ontario, spent years traveling to and working in Gaza.

Democracy Now! 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.

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