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My surprise at fallout over dispatches from Israel

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 25 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b722
  1. A Mark Clarfield, head of geriatrics, Soroka Hospital, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
  1. markclar{at}

    Despite the fact that I like to write, I have never before thought of publishing a blog anywhere. Although my generation’s aversion to electrons and a preference for paper may be partly responsible, I had always considered such postings to be a vaguely narcissistic act. After all, who would actually want to read my thoughts on the latest movie I had seen or learn about a fight I had had with my boss? That being said, when the BMJ asked me to write about my experiences in the recent war in southern Israel and Gaza, it all came pouring out.

    Although in the end I was able to post a mere fraction of what I actually put to pen, I wrote about the heavy responsibility I had felt in trying to look after my frail elderly patients in a hospital that Hamas had targeted with sophisticated Grad missiles. I wrote about watching friends and colleagues being called up to serve in the army and how we coped, psychologically and clinically, with this sudden absence. I wrote about Matan, my son’s friend and our friends’ son, whose task it was in the army to neutralise explosives in an endless number of homes (yes, civilian homes) that Hamas had boobytrapped in the hope that they would kill our soldiers—and hang the possibility that innocent Palestinian civilians might be hurt. I wrote about the careful instructions that he and his mates had received throughout training and during combat to minimise civilian casualties. Owing to the fog of war, they could not always succeed, but I have personal knowledge of the type of instructions received.

    Although I wrote about many things on my pad of paper, in the blog postings I only …

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