GAZA: The human face & impact of the ‘bloodbath’

MSF staff and patient testimonies provides insights – personal and medical – about the massive influx of patients treated at MSF facilities during the past two months

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 — Quotes from MSF staff

Hamed, a watchman in Gaza clinic  

“We have received more than 500 patients injured by gunshots in our clinic in Gaza city since 30 March. The influx of wounded puts everybody under a lot of pressure, but we do our best to help our patients. We know that they are suffering a lot. I am a watchman, but since the violence started I have been carrying stretchers, helping people to get out of the ambulances, and even buying water for people if they are injured and can’t move. I am here to help; we are human and we are humanitarian workers.”

Lynn, an orthopaedic surgeon  

“Most of the patients we operate on either have shattered bones with big chunks of muscle, tendons and skin blown out, or soft tissue injuries with nerve damage and blood vessel injuries. The most critical patients have all of that. It will take a long time for people with these injuries to recover, not to mention the several surgeries they will have to undergo. Patients will need long physical rehabilitation to be able to walk again. Life will never be the same for them.”

Samar, pharmacist

“As a pharmacist working with MSF, I’m supporting the emergency response assisting people in need and those affected by the recent violence. We rapidly scaled up to respond, donating drugs, medical disposables, surgical instruments and logistic supplies to several Ministry of Health hospitals in Gaza city. These facilities, despite their best efforts, are still facing severe shortages.”

Zaher, nurse  

“In just two months, we received more than 1,200 patients injured by gunshots in our clinics. MSF made great efforts to manage the emergency response. Surgical teams were deployed, donations of medicines were made, and here in the clinic we have been working hard to provide our patients with the best quality care. But with so many patients to treat, and the injuries so severe, MSF has recruited an extra 30 nurses to cope with the influx of wounded.”

Abu Jasser, surgical team facilitator  

“The Ministry of Health requested MSF’s support to cope with the sudden increase of patients injured by gunshots. We have provided surgeons, nurses and anaesthesiologists. We are working hard to perform complex second surgeries and avoid infections; we provide skin grafts and reconstructive surgery. We also refer patients to MSF clinics for close follow-up care after their operations. We work closely with the local teams; we share experience, and do our best to support the healthcare system in this terrible situation.”

Regidor, operating theatre nurse  

“There is a sentence in our MSF wound care handbook which I find very accurate; it says, ‘You need to treat the whole patient and not just the hole in the patient.’ What I’ve seen during my first few weeks working in north Gaza is that most of the people injured by gunshots are adolescent men. Because of the severity of their injuries, there is a high risk these young men will remain disabled for the rest of their lives if we don’t take good care of them.”

Abu Jasser, surgical team facilitator<br/>“The Ministry of Health requested MSF’s support to cope with the sudden increase of patients injured by gunshots. We have provided surgeons, nurses and anaesthesiologists. We are working hard to perform complex second surgeries and avoid infections; we provide skin grafts and reconstructive surgery. We also refer patients to MSF clinics for close follow-up care after their operations. We work closely with the local teams; we share experience, and do our best to support the healthcare system in this terrible situation.” Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Donation of disposable and external fixators to Nasser public hospital.<br/><br/>Samar, MSF pharmacist. <br/>“As a pharmacist working with MSF, I’m supporting the emergency response assisting people in need and those affected by the recent violence. We rapidly scaled up to respond, donating drugs, medical disposables, surgical instruments and logistic supplies to several Ministry of Health hospitals in Gaza city. These facilities, despite their best efforts, are still facing severe shortages.” Photographer: Aurelie Baumel
Hamed, watchman in Gaza clinic<br/>“We have received more than 500 patients injured by gunshots in our clinic in Gaza city since 30 March. The influx of wounded puts everybody under a lot of pressure, but we do our best to help our patients. We know that they are suffering a lot. I am a watchman, but since the violence started I have been carrying stretchers, helping people to get out of the ambulances, and even buying water for people if they are injured and can’t move. I am here to help; we are human and we are humanitarian workers.” Photographer: Aurelie Baumel
Jameel Masood is 50 years. He is followed by MSF teams in Beit Lahia clinic following gunshot in the context of the March of Return. He has been interviewed for patient testimony on 17th of April. When he was shot, he was standing 600 m away from the fence, eating a snack. "My name is Jameel and I'm 50 years old. I am an ice cream seller. I’m married and I have four daughters. Of course, I cannot go to work since I was injured, and I do not know when I can start my job again.<br/><br/>I went to the demonstration on March 30 to relieve the stress of the life in Gaza, for a change of atmosphere, but also simply to show that I exist.<br/><br/>I did not have any specific expectation for this day. Moreover, we cannot say that I actively protested; rather, I observed. I was not throwing stones of course, and I was not screaming. I was standing in the middle of a group of people I did not know, 600 meters from the separation barrier, and I ate a snack.<br/><br/>It was then that I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my leg. They had just shot me. I fell and the people around me immediately took me to an ambulance, which took me to the hospital. I lost a lot of blood. When I arrived, my hemoglobin level was 3g / dcl [compared to 12 to 14g / dcl in normal conditions].<br/><br/>There I was operated on, to stop the bleeding. It was 11 a.m. I was one of the first wounded of the march and so I was lucky enough to be operated on quickly. I had a sectioned artery and it's a miracle that they were able to save my life in time. I would need a second surgery, however, and in the meantime, I can’t walk or lower my leg.<br/><br/> I have not been back to the border since then. I am physically unable to do it, but even if I could walk, I would not go. I do not judge people who go there—they have their reasons— but for me it's too difficult. I spend my time reminding myself of the scene. I think about it all the time. What happened? What did I do wrong for them to shoot me? " Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Lynn, orthopedic surgeon<br/>“Most of the patients we operate on either have shattered bones with big chunks of muscle, tendons and skin blown out, or soft tissue injuries with nerve damage and blood vessel injuries. The most critical patients have all of that. It will take a long time for people with these injuries to recover, not to mention the several surgeries they will have to undergo. Patients will need long physical rehabilitation to be able to walk again. Life will never be the same for them.” Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Regidor, Operation Theatre nurse<br/>“There is a sentence in our MSF wound care handbook which I find very accurate; it says, ‘You need to treat the whole patient and not just the hole in the patient.’ What I’ve seen during my first few weeks working in north Gaza is that most of the people injured by gunshots are adolescent men. Because of the severity of their injuries, there is a high risk these young men will remain disabled for the rest of their lives if we don’t take good care of them.” Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Samar, pharmacist<br/>“As a pharmacist working with MSF, I’m supporting the emergency response assisting people in need and those affected by the recent violence. We rapidly scaled up to respond, donating drugs, medical disposables, surgical instruments and logistic supplies to several Ministry of Health hospitals in Gaza city. These facilities, despite their best efforts, are still facing severe shortages.” Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Sana is 30 years old. She was injured by two gunshots in both legs during the march of return. She was met with her mother in Khan Yunis clinic on 16th of April to collect her testimony. "My name is Sana and I am 30 years old. I live with my family, which consists of 16 people. I am not married so I help my mother with housework. I am very attached to the fight for my country, and my mother before me, took part in many demonstrations<br/><br/>In Gaza there is no hope, no future. People here are poor and we’re dying slowly.  I am myself desperate with my life here. <br/>When I left for the march, I wanted to die. To die as a hero is much preferable to the life we have in Gaza. Before leaving, I gave money to my father, so he could buy cakes and treats for my funeral. I said goodbye to everyone. I did not want to come back. I was determined.<br/><br/>My parents and brothers forbade me to go to the demonstration and to get close to the separation barrier, but I went in secret with two of my friends. My mother followed me but she could not find me in the crowd.<br/><br/>My two friends and I were shot and wounded. In my case, I had both legs injured, by two separate shots. A person who came to help me stand and get into an ambulance was also targeted and wounded.<br/><br/>After the demonstration, my family did not know if I was safe, hurt or dead. They searched for four hours in hospitals in southern Gaza, before finding me.<br/><br/>Now, with my injury, I have become a burden to my family. The committee of the wounded refused to give money to my father as compensation because I was not amputated and no bone was affected. I feel abandoned by the leaders of the country I wanted to defend.<br/><br/>I can’t wait to heal, and to go back. My mother tries to dissuade me. It's normal, she's my mother. But I want to die this time. The sign V of victory, is the only hope I have left. ". Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Yahya Yaseen is 11 years old. He was shot in the leg during the March of Return. He was met in Beit Lahia clinic where he is treated by the teams on 17th of april 2018. "My name is Yahya, I’m 11 years old and I’m in 5th grade. Before I got hurt I really enjoyed going to school and never had grades below 95/100!<br/><br/>I went to the "Great March of Return" with two of my brothers, to discover the land of my parents, and to see with my own eyes the people who bomb Gaza and shoot Gazans. I wanted to understand why. You know, the only thing that makes Israelis stronger than us is their weapons.<br/><br/>I was very close to the fence when I got shot. I was the only child of my age to be so close. I wanted to get closer to see the landscape on the other side. It was very beautiful, much more beautiful than Gaza! But then I got shot. I remember the face of the person who shot; she was a young blond woman.<br/><br/>I received a bullet at the junction between the foot and the leg. Everything was hurt: the muscles, the tendons, and the bone. I can only move my toes now, and just a little bit. When I was shot, it hurt me a lot, like an electric shock. But now, I feel a little better. I first got surgery at the hospital and I should have another operation. In the meantime, I come three times a week to the MSF clinic in Beit Lahia and I have been told that I should be able to walk again in six months.<br/><br/>I do not think I'm too young to get injured. I can bear the pain and the sorrow, like all the other people in Gaza who have been wounded by gunshot." <br/>Photographer: Laurie Bonnaud
Zaher Okasha, MSF nurse.<br/>“In just two months, we received more than 1,200 patients injured by gunshots in our clinics. MSF made great efforts to manage the emergency response. Surgical teams were deployed, donations of medicines were made, and here in the clinic we have been working hard to provide our patients with the best quality care. But with so many patients to treat, and the injuries so severe, MSF has recruited an extra 30 nurses to cope with the influx of wounded.” Photographer: Aurelie Baumel