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IPFS News Link • WAR: About that War

Opinion: I'm an American doctor who went to Gaza. What I saw wasn't war -- it was annihilati

• https://www.latimes.com, BY IRFAN GALARIA

I have worked in other war zones. But what I witnessed during the next 10 days in Gaza was not war — it was annihilation. At least 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's bombardment of Gaza. From Cairo, Egypt's capital, we drove 12 hours east to the Rafah border. We passed miles of parked humanitarian aid trucks because they weren't allowed into Gaza. Aside from my team and other envoy members from the United Nations and World Health Organization, there were very few others there.

Entering southern Gaza on Jan. 29, where many have fled from the north, felt like the first pages of a dystopian novel. Our ears were numb with the constant humming of what I was told were the surveillance drones that circled constantly. Our noses were consumed with the stench of 1 million displaced humans living in close proximity without adequate sanitation. Our eyes got lost in the sea of tents. We stayed at a guest house in Rafah. Our first night was cold, and many of us couldn't sleep. We stood on the balcony listening to the bombs, and seeing the smoke rise from Khan Yunis.

As we approached the European Gaza Hospital the next day, there were rows of tents that lined and blocked the streets. Many Palestinians gravitated toward this and other hospitals hoping it would represent a sanctuary from the violence — they were wrong.

People also spilled into the hospital: living in hallways, stairwell corridors and even storage closets. The once-wide walkways designed by the European Union to accommodate the busy traffic of medical staff, stretchers and equipment were now reduced to a single-file passageway. On either side, blankets hung from the ceiling to cordon off small areas for entire families, offering a sliver of privacy. A hospital designed to accommodate about 300 patients was now struggling to care for more than 1,000 patients and hundreds more seeking refuge.


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