Published on Thursday, January 22, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
Worse Than an Earthquake
RAFAH - Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza's coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below,
Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.
"Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake," said a doctor at the Shifaa hospital in
He and his colleagues are visibly exhausted, following weeks of work in the Intensive Care and Emergency Room departments at a hospital that received many more patients than they could help. "Patients died on the floor of the operating room because we had only six operating rooms," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, M.D, an ICU doctor who grew up in
In 15 years of practice, Dr. Abuhassan says he never saw burns like those he saw here. The burns, blackish in color, reached deep into the muscles and bones. Even after treatment was begun, the blackish color returned.
Two of the patients were sent to
In Gaza City, The Burn Unit's harried director, a plastic surgeon and an expert in treating burns, told us that after encountering cases they'd never seen before, doctors at the center performed a biopsy on a patient they believed may have suffered chemical burns and sent the sample to a lab in Egypt. The results showed elements of white phosphorous in the tissue.
The doctor was interrupted by a phone call from a farmer who wanted to know whether it was safe to eat the oranges he was collecting from groves that had been uprooted and bombed during the Israeli invasion. The caller said the oranges had an offensive odor and that when the workers picked them up their hands became itchy.
Audrey Stewart had just spent the morning with Gazan farmers in Tufaa, a village near the border between
The doctor put his head in his hands, after listening to Audrey's report. "I told them to wash everything very carefully. But these are new situations. Really, I don't know how to respond," he said.
Yet he spoke passionately about what he knew regarding families that had been burned or crushed to death when their homes were bombed. "Were their babies a danger to anyone?" he asked us.
"They are lying to us about democracy and Western values," he continued, his voice shaking. "If we were sheep and goats, they would be more willing to help us."
Dr. Saeed Abuhassan was bidding farewell to the doctors he'd worked with in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs