It’s tempting I know. The horrors are indescribable, yet describe them we must. To face them is sickening, yet face them we must. To bear witness in the full knowledge we can do nothing – so much for the democracy in whose name oceans of blood are spilt in far-off lands – may expose us to more reality than the human organism evolved to withstand, yet bear witness we must.
A great crime is taking place; abetted and whitewashed by your government and mine. Do not look away. Don whatever armour fits. Me, I’m your typical white collar bloke, I wrap up safe in the abstractions of analysis. A woman I know writes poems – they did that at Auschwitz too – but refuses to avert her gaze.
Seek counselling or catharsis, meditation or prayer. Self medicate if it works. But please …
… do not look away
As Israel expands its ground assault into Khan Younis, a surgeon at the European Hospital in the city describes desperately trying to treat a relentless stream of wounded children as critical supplies run out
Warning: this article contains distressing detail about people’s injuries
A badly burned toddler screaming for the mother he doesn’t know is dead – and screaming because doctors do not have enough painkillers to relieve his suffering. An eight-year-old boy whose brain is exposed as bombing damaged parts of his skull. A teenage girl, her eye surgically removed, because every bone in her face is smashed. A three-year-old double amputee, whose severed limbs are laid out in a pink box beside him.
And in the background is the stench of rotting flesh as maggots “creep out of untreated wounds”.
This is the daily reality at the European Hospital inside the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, as described by veteran British war surgeon Tom Potokar, who works for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
While the United Nations warns that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “apocalyptic”, the Israeli military has expanded a ferocious ground campaign from the north of the besieged territory into the south, where an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians have been displaced.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to continue the war until the army destroys Hamas, which runs the Strip and launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on 7 October in which 1,200 people were killed and another 240 were taken hostage.
Israel launched its heaviest-ever aerial bombardment of Gaza in the wake of the Hamas attack. And in recent days, Israeli forces have started to storm Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, launching what is believed to be the biggest ground assault since a fragile seven-day truce collapsed last week.
Inside the European Hospital, one of the main medical centres servicing the city and surrounding areas, medics struggle to treat the “relentless” stream of wounded, Dr Potokar says.
Nearly half of them are children ….
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