In this Wednesday, July, 16, 2014, Mads Gilbert, Norwegian doctor who has volunteered at Shifa on and off for 17 years, treats a man at the emergency room of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Working at Shifa requires ingenuity. The power goes off repeatedly as aging hospital generators buckle under daily rolling blackouts Gaza residents have lived with for years. “If we are in the middle of an operation (and) lights go out, what do the Palestinians do? They pick up their phones, and they use the light from the screen to illuminate the operation field,” said Gilbert. Image Credit: AP

Ramallah: In an open letter, a Norwegian surgeon who volunteers at a hospital in Gaza, Dr Mads Gilbert, has invited US President Barack Obama to spend a night in Al Shifa’a Hospital in Gaza to see the catastrophic consequences of ruthless and hateful Israeli assaults.

Addressing the US President Obama, Dr. Gilbert wrote “Mr Obama — do you have a heart? I invite you, spend one night — just one night — with us in Al Shifa’a hospital. I am convinced, 100 per cent, it would change history. Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa’a without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people. But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another dayhia — onslaught on Gaza. The rivers of blood will keep running the coining night, I can hear they have turned their instruments of death. Please do what you can. This cannot continue.”

Addressing the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, Dr Gilbert went on to say “the last night was extreme. The ground invasion of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying … all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

“Now once more treated like animals by ‘the most moral army in the world’.

“My respect for the wounded is endless in their contained determination in the midst of pain agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless. My closeness to Palestinian Sumod (steadfastness) gives me strength, although in glimpses, I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of them warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in endless embrace — but we cannot afford that, nor can they.”

Describing the conditions in Al Shifa’a hospital, Dr Gilbert wrote “More than 100 cases came to Shifa’a hospital in the last 24 hours. Enough for a large well-trained hospital with everything, but here — almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, operating-room tables, instruments, monitors — all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, enormous, resolute.

“And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flow, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief of anger and fear. This is not happening! And then the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again.”

Gulf News has learnt from reliable sources at the Health Ministry in Gaza that Norwegian doctor, who is a specialist in anaesthesia and emergency medicine has received death threats from Israelis for being actively involved with solidarity work concerning Palestinians since the 1970 and for his strong statements and open letters from Gaza.

The sources say that the Gazans take utmost care in protecting Dr Gilbert who has never hesitated to help Gaza and give a helping hand for the wounded Palestinians as per the world’s most advanced medical tactics and treatment.

Highlighting the vital role Dr Gilbert had played in saving the lives of injured Palestinians, the sources said that whatever the Palestinian leadership and public do for Dr Gilbert, they will be incapable to return the man’s favours and pay him back.

Dr Gilbert’s Norwegian partner in the Gaza mission, Dr Mohammad Abu Arab, said apart from attending casualties, they were also eyewitness to the violations of human rights.

“Israeli strikes are launched randomly with no military targets at all,” he told Gulf News, adding that more than 500 Palestinians had been killed so far — the majority of them innocent civilians. Many of them are children and women, proving that the vengeful Israeli assaults target civilians, the doctor said.

“We have come to this conclusion according to the statistics of the injured people and the nature of the injuries where victims, heads and chests are mainly targeted by the Israeli forces,” he said.

“The wholesale killing of Palestinian civilians clearly indicates that killers on the field had been ordered to kill as many of those civilians as they can in the shortest possible time. This inhuman trend of war must be halted with immediate effect.”

Dr Abu Arab said the general health conditions in Gaza were catastrophic, give with the dire shortage of drugs, electricity, water, and medical needs such as disposables, operating room tables, instruments, and monitors.

“Gaza health capabilities were far better in the previous two aggressions than the current catastrophic conditions of the ongoing assault,” he said. “The humanitarian conditions in Gaza imply an immediate lift of the blockade imposed on the coastal enclave as this blockade is in itself a crime against humanity.”