Gaza lost much more than a hospital at al-Shifa

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By Creative Media News

  • Israeli military withdrawal leaves al-Shifa Hospital in ruins
  • Al-Shifa represented hope and excellence for Gaza’s healthcare
  • Destruction of al-Shifa constitutes irreparable loss for Gaza

Following a two-week assault, the Israeli military eventually withdrew from al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza last month, leaving behind nothing but ruins and scenes of destruction reminiscent of the end of the world.

Deceased corpses littered the ground. The majority of structures were gutted and reduced to ruins by fire.

Al-Shifa cost Gaza considerably more than the destruction of its leading medical facility because Al-Shifa represented the people of Gaza significantly more than a hospital.

Al-Shifa was a second home for members of the healthcare community. It was where we studied, conducted research, and trained. It motivated us to become the most proficient practitioners of healing.

It was an oasis of optimism for our patients. They were assured of receiving optimal medical attention at al-Shifa, a facility with significantly superior facilities compared to most other institutions in the strip.

In addition, al-Shifa was a nationally recognized landmark and a popular gathering site. It was surrounded by restaurants, libraries, and two universities, all within walking distance before the genocide. Indeed, it constituted the vital core of Gaza City.

It was reduced to charred ruins by Israel and was the location of a massacre.

Al-Shifa provided a variety of services that were not available elsewhere in Gaza. It was staffed with cutting-edge medical equipment and physicians, including dialysis machinery for kidney patients and radiological technology. Its adept medical staff was capable of performing uncommon surgical procedures. It endured decades of sieges, material shortages, and numerous Israeli assaults while providing life-saving care to millions of Palestinians.

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Al-Shifa served as a knowledge repository for medical experts traveling from beyond Gaza. Every medical team visiting Gaza would ensure that they stop by al-Shifa to observe distinct operations, gain an understanding of the most recent medical advancements, and track the numerous studies being conducted there.

Al-Shifa was a source of inspiration and a symbol of medical excellence for us, the physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers of Gaza, because it housed the most brilliant and accomplished medical professionals who served the community.

Although Al-Shifa represented our aspirations for the future, it was also a significant part of our past. Substantial numbers of us had received medical treatment there well before our enrollment. Every individual in Gaza was extraordinarily pleased with this gem. Its devastation caused an irreparable deprivation.

A renowned surgical consultant, Dr. Marwan Abu Sada, wrote after visiting the medical complex in the aftermath of Israel’s attack, “I could not hold back my tears upon witnessing the devastation here.”

“I shed no tears over the destruction of my residence; rather, I shed tears over the devastation of the hospital, the medical staff, and the wounded in Gaza,” he continued.

His sentiments of loss and devastation are ones that I, along with many other healthcare professionals, can relate to.

Israel had forewarned al-Shifa for quite some time, but so many of us were skeptical and could not have imagined the magnitude of the destruction that ultimately transpired. The moment I saw al-Shifa, the medical center of Gaza, engulfed in flames, I was beyond words with astonishment.

Israel lied about the existence of a military “operations base” beneath al-Shifa, knowing that such actions would violate international law and the Geneva Convention. Following weeks of rampaging through the complex, the Israeli military was unable to substantiate this assertion with any evidence. However, that was inconsequential; al-Shifa was eradicated, thereby legitimizing an additional facet of this ongoing genocide.

The objective of Israel’s assault on al-Shifa was to exacerbate the Palestinian people’s suffering, not to obtain a military advantage over its adversary. The assault deprived the inhabitants of Gaza of their primary refuge during a time when they were confronted with numerous dangers. Once more, thousands of refugees seeking refuge there were displaced. It resulted in individuals maimed by snipers and bombs, children rescued from beneath the debris, and infants and elders who were starving and lacked access to healthcare. A location that had previously been a sanctuary and a haven for healing was reduced to mass graves and atrocities as a result of the assault. It ridiculed international law and brought Israel’s barbarism to light.

Our dwellings’ destruction by Israel was an atrocious loss. However, for many of us, the destruction of al-Shifa was an even greater calamity. It was a collective loss in addition to a personal one.

The demise of al-Shifa has resulted in an intractable wound remaining. How can we reconstruct it, and what course of action should we pursue in the aftermath of the destruction of the very fabric of our society?

Israel oversaw the destruction of all universities in Gaza and rendered inoperable the majority of its hospitals. It reduced al-Shifa to a shambles heap. Numerous medical professionals, nurses, physicians, and academic clinicians perished. Others were compelled to evacuate to survive. Recently, we were informed of the lamentable demise of Dr. Adnan al-Bursh, the esteemed director of the orthopedic department at al-Shifa. This unfortunate event transpired after his apprehension and questioning by Israeli troops. We who are still in Gaza are powerless to observe and speculate on the identities of those who will be slaughtered next and the structural targets that will be identified. Such is existence gone.

As we eagerly await the conclusion of Israel’s military campaign against Gaza and the establishment of a ceasefire agreement, our concerns also revolve around the potential repercussions: How will the genocide impact life in Gaza, will al-Shifa be absent, and will it be possible to reconstruct the health sector in the wake of the devastation inflicted? Al-Shifa is unreplaceable, at least for now. However, what it symbolizes can be preserved: our aspirations for an improved tomorrow and the grit and perseverance of our community.

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