Al Shifa, descent into children's madness

Gaza, Palestinian Territories, 2014

Al-Shifa Hospital is the largest medical complex and central hospital in the Gaza Strip, located in the neighbourhood of North Rimal in Gaza City in the Gaza Governorate. Dar Al-Shifa, which means "house of healing" in Arabic, was originally a British Army barracks, but was transformed into a center to provide treatment for quarantine and febrile diseases by the government of the British Mandate of Palestine. Prior to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, al-Shifa was the only hospital in Gaza.


During 2014, Operation Protective Edge, Dr. Mads Gilbert declared:  "I am now in Shifa Hospital in central Gaza City. Shifa Hospital is the trauma center for the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. It’s a very important hospital, but its function is almost crippled by the longstanding, seven-year Israeli siege of Gaza, which has caused extensive deficiencies on all types of equipment needed for running a hospital; disposable instruments, sutures, and the more basic things like water and electricity.


So, it’s really a miracle that the staffing at Shifa managed to improvise all that you need to improvise in order to sustain a caseload, like we had [Thursday], of around 100 cases coming into Shifa, many of them severally injured. And before I go to the injuries, let me just underline one thing. Health is not only a question of a health-care system, it is in as much a question of the basic commodities in life  – water, food, human security, education, work and so on. And all these basic pre-conditions for public health are lacking in Gaza as a result of the occupation and the siege of Gaza.


As for the injuries, we have had a steady current of injured, dying, dead during this close to two weeks of Israeli onslaught. The most striking impression and documented feature is that 80 90 percent of the injured and killed are civilians. This is according to U.N. and the Palestinian Minister of Health. Fifty percent, pretty much exactly 50 percent of the injured are women and children. About one-quarter to one-third of the killed are children."