Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Health in Gaza

The maiming fields of Gaza

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 13 August 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3299

Rapid Response:

Bombing Gaza, killing whole families, and cutting off Al-Shifa Hospital

Dear Editor

Bombing Gaza, killing whole families, and cutting off Al Shifa hospital

Into the evening they are still digging up the victims of the attacks last night on the populous road al Wahda Street, which leads to the main and emergency ambulances entrance of the al Shifa hospital. Al Shifa is the only hospital in Gaza equipped for emergency assistance. It has received over 490 seriously wounded cases (of the total of 1235 wounded in the last few days), and is struggling to cope. The roads leading to the hospital entrances have been were bombed, apparently intentionally, and so are now impassable to ambulances. Rescuers have to walk while carrying the wounded over the rubble for several hundred meters. Even emergency supplies have to be carried manually over the rubble.

The hospital has its corridors lined with stretchers of wounded people. Director of Surgery Dr Marwan Abu Sada reported last night that most victims undergoing surgery need intensive care treatment, but these beds are filled with Covid patients. There are few ventilators could be found and Covid patients had had to be displaced by the desperately wounded. Medical supplies are scarce and disposables are being reused. A major medical supplies store near the main entrance is also affected. Gaza’s health sector is already grossly depleted by 15 years of Israeli blockade.

Last night, 16 May, a massive attack destroyed al-Wahda Street which leads to the hospital. Several buildings were bombed, with no warning signal apparently given, and entire families buried where they slept. It is likely that many are still buried and the search continues. According to the Ministry of Health, 47 civilians died in this assault, including 16 women and 10 children. Of the 50 seriously wounded, most were women and children. Among them are the families of health professionals: Dr Ayman Abu Alouf, an internal medicine consultant leading the team treating Covid patients at Al Shifa hospital, killed with his wife, parents, aunt and 3 children; Dr Moeen Al-Aloul, a Ministry of Health neurologist, killed with his wife Raja, a psychologist, and their 5 children.

So far the total casualty and death toll in Gaza since 10 May 2021 is 192 dead, 34 of whom were women and 58 children, and 1235 wounded. 10 families of multiple generations have been annihilated without survivors. UN reports that around 30,000 have been made homeless.

In addition, two small private clinics in al-Wahda street which were helping the wounded have also been destroyed.

We cry out in anguish for the lives of colleagues and civilians being killed in this monstrous way. These are war crimes, violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

17 May 2021.

Dr Swee Ang, Surgery, UK
Prof Colin Green, Surgical Science, UK
Prof Sir Iain Chalmers, James Lind Library, Oxford
Prof Paola Manduca, University of Genoa, Italy.
Dr Bruno Cigliano, Paediatric Surgery, Italy.
Dr Carla Ciccone, Gynaecology, Italy
Dr Franco Camadona, Gynaecology, Italy
Dr Gianni Tognoni, Italy
Prof Guido Veronese, Clinical Psychology, Italy
Dr Hans Husum, Surgery, Norway
Dr Mariagiulia Agnoletto, Psychiatry, Italy
Prof Marina Rui, Chemistry, Italy
Prof Alan Meyers, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Dr Alice Rothchild, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Maxine Fookson, Jewish Voice for Peace,USA
Dr Peter Sporn, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Amy Alpert, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Dr Rachel Rubin, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Prof Raija-Leena Punamäki-Gitai , Psychology, Finland
Dr Sergio Dagostino, Paediatric Surgery, Italy
Dr Silvana Agatone, Gynaecology, Italy
Prof Stefania Papa, Ecology, Italy
Dr Trude Bennett, USA
Prof Vittorio Agnoletto, Global and Public Health, Italy
Dr Derek Summerfield, King’s College, UK.
Prof Christophe Oberlin, Surgery France.
Dr Ernesto Burgio, Paediatrics, Italy

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 May 2021
Derek A Summerfield
Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer
Dr Swee Ang, Prof Colin Green, Prof Sir Iain Chalmers Prof Paola Manduca, Dr Bruno Cigliano, Dr Carla Ciccone, Dr Gianni Tognani, Prof Guido Veronese, Dr Hans Husum, Dr Mariaguila Agnoletto, Prof Marina Rui, Prof Alan Meyers, Dr Alice Rothchild, Maxine Fookson, Dr Peter Sporn, Amy Alpert, Prof Raija-Leena Punamaki-Gitai,Dr Sylvana Agatone, Prof Stefania Papa, Dr Trude Bennett, Prof Vittorio Agnoletto, Dr Derek Summerfield, Prof Christophe Oberlin.
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College
de Crespigny Rd London SE5 8BB