In a 26-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Dr Khamis Elessi, a specialist in pain management and rehabilitation at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, described in graphic detail the conditions in the Shifa hospital, and in Gaza City, where it is located.
He was speaking from Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, an area that Israel insisted must be vacated two weeks ago.
He said the hospital has a capacity for just a few hundred patients, but at the moment, it’s sheltering in excess of 20,000 people. He said patients are lying in the corridors and in the halls. He said anesthesia is available only for the most serious cases. For many others, operations are happening without anesthesia. He said the hospital has run woefully and desperately short of medicines.
Elessi said there is no electricity at all and the hospital is working on generators. He added that there’s only fuel for another 20 hours or so. The oxygen-making plants are very close to stopping the work completely. Water is in acute shortage and they only have a bottle a day.
He said that patients requiring renal dialysis cannot receive it. Patients requiring ventilators or babies in incubators will in all likelihood die when fuel runs out and the generators stop.
He said at most, doctors can have a bath once every five days. Because of the crowded conditions, the danger of disease and epidemic is steadily growing. Skin infections are spreading even within the hospital and you can hear children and patients coughing all the time.
Speaking about the conditions in Gaza City, Elessi said many people have been trapped under rubble, but because they cannot be rescued, they have been left to die. He gave graphic details of the buildings that have been bombed and collapsed and the rubble that lies all along the roads. There is no garbage collection.
He also gave graphic details of queues lining up for bread and water, and people often waiting for hours before they get what they want.
Elessi said the morale amongst doctors is high despite the trauma they are living through. But they are very scared for their family and children.
In an eloquent but heart-rending appeal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Elessi said: “Mr. Modi, use your influence to stop this war and prevent innocent women and children being killed.”
Elessi says he believes if Prime Minister Modi exercises his influence, it can stop the war. He also said: “We want to live in peace side by side with the Israelis,” adding that “we are all cousins. We all come from the same Prophet.”