While the mass exodus continues towards the southern Gaza Strip, in light of the Israeli military escalation taking place in various areas of the Strip, which has recently raged in the south, a British doctor present at the European Hospital in Khan Yunis revealed scenes that he described as “horrific” that reflect the scale of the tragedy in the southern Strip.
Veteran war surgeon Tom Potokar, who works for the International Committee of the Red Cross, spoke to the British newspaper “The Independent” about what was happening in the hospital, saying that he “saw a young child with severe burns, calling for his mother, whom he did not know was dead, at a time when there was no… “There are enough painkillers to ease his suffering.”
He also referred to an 8-year-old child, whose brain was severely damaged as a result of his house being bombed, pointing out that another child had undergone an eye removal surgery, because every bone in her face was shattered.
The doctor added in his interview with the newspaper:IndependentBent“, that he “saw a 3-year-old amputee child, and his severed limbs were placed in a pink box next to him,” while in the background of all these scenes appeared “the smell of rotting flesh,” while “worms emerged from untreated wounds.”
The Israeli army expanded its ground campaign from the north of the besieged Strip to the south, where an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians were displaced.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to “continue the war until the Hamas movement that runs the Gaza Strip is eliminated, and which launched unprecedented attacks on southern Israel on October 7, leading to the killing of more than 1,200 people, the majority of whom were civilians, including women.” and children, according to the competent authorities.
On the other hand, Israel launches continuous bombing following the attack by Hamas militants, which is classified as a terrorist organization in America and other countries, which led to the killing of more than 16 thousand people, most of them women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
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The daily scenes of killing and destruction of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip prompted the Secretary-General of the United Nations to use “the most powerful tool he has” in the organization’s charter to alert the Security Council that what is happening there “threatens the maintenance of international peace and security.”
In recent days, Israeli forces began storming Khan Yunis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, and launched what is believed to be the largest ground attack since the collapse of the fragile seven-day truce.
These developments come at a time when the United Nations warns that “the humanitarian situation in Gaza has become horrific.”
“He narrowly escaped death”
Potokar said that he is inside the European Hospital, one of the main medical centers serving Khan Yunis and the surrounding areas, where paramedics are struggling to treat the “continuous” influx of wounded, noting that “half of them are children.”
The doctor, who has not left the European Hospital for 5 weeks, continued: “I could not count the number of children we treated who suffered horrific injuries, burns, and amputations, and lost their entire families.”
He said: “Palestinian and international paramedics sleep on the floor of nursing rooms, their food is limited amounts of pasta, and they work in 14-hour shifts.”
Potokar noted that one night he “almost lost his life as a result of a shrapnel that penetrated the window of the room he was in.”
Some doctors, including nurses and surgeons with whom Potokar worked, were killed, along with dozens of their family members. At least one of the 100 ICRC employees working in Gaza was also killed, according to the newspaper.
This is the 14th time that Potokar has worked as a paramedic in Gaza, as he previously worked in this field as a surgeon in Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen, stressing that this conflict “is without a doubt the worst he has witnessed so far.”
He continued: “I saw a very large number of children whose lives were destroyed. I treated a 4-month-old boy with major burns. I also treated an 8-year-old child who suffered from an open fracture in his skull and his brain was exposed.”
He added: “It is horrific to see that these infections continue to arrive at the hospital every day.”
Recently, Potokar was treating a burn patient in the intensive care unit who had been displaced from the northern Gaza Strip, and whose wounds were festering because “the bandages had not been changed for several days.”
‘Devastating impact on children’
Since the end of the humanitarian truce on December 1, the Israeli army has penetrated into the southern Gaza Strip, and has continued its operations in the north.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, warned on Wednesday that nearly two million Palestinians – ordered by Israel to take shelter in the south – are now crammed “in very small, overcrowded spaces in unsanitary conditions.”
He added: “Humanitarian aid has been effectively cut off again, with fears of widespread disease and hunger spreading.”
A noticeable decline in the ability to count the dead in Gaza
Israeli forces launched an air and ground campaign against Hamas in Gaza after the movement’s attack on southern Israel on October 7. Figures from the Ministry of Health in Gaza indicate that the Israeli attack claimed the lives of at least 16,015 Palestinians, while Israeli statistics estimate that 1,200 people died in a Hamas attack inside Israel.
Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told CNN on Wednesday that Israeli forces “targeted Hamas’ command and control centers, weapons storage and logistical facilities,” and that they “asked the Palestinians to evacuate to a special humanitarian zone in southern Gaza.” “Near Khan Yunis.”
He admitted that this is “not ideal, but it is the best solution we currently have available.”
For its part, the relief organization Save the Children stated that the number of children killed in the Palestinian Strip “is so high that it exceeds the annual number of children killed in conflict zones around the world since 2019.”
The Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, said on Tuesday that “the destruction of Gaza now ranks among the worst attacks on any civilian population of our time.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said this week that Gaza is “the most dangerous place in the world for children, and things will get worse.”
At the European Hospital, there are now at least 360 people on the waiting list for surgery, “an impossible number to manage,” says Boukwater.
This is exacerbated by staff shortages, with medics being killed in their homes, or prevented from reaching the hospital due to bombing and destroyed roads.
Bookwater stated, “The nurse who helped him treat a 3-year-old amputee child was killed 3 nights ago along with 12 members of her family.”
A senior plastic surgeon, who was also a colleague of the British doctor, was killed along with 30 members of his family in an air strike four weeks ago.
“There are too many patients and not enough medical staff, and there is not enough time in the operating room to treat them all, so we have to prioritize,” Boukter continued.
The infection is now spreading in hospitals due to wounds not being treated in a timely manner. There is a “huge” number of patients with complex injuries that have been neglected, according to Boukter, who stressed that “anyone who doubts the devastating impact on civilians (in Gaza) will change their mind if they spend one day in the hospital wards.”
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