View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
  2. Middle East
18 October 2023

Letter from Gaza: “What we have witnessed has never been seen before”

I have seen children writing their names on the palms of their hands. When they die, they want people to know who they are.

By Mahmoud Shalabi

Life in Gaza is utterly miserable. Israel is not only killing Palestinians by bombing our homes, but by slowly cutting off the basic commodities we need to live. One recent morning I queued for more than two hours to get bread for my family. I got ten pieces of bread for my wife and three children, my parents, and my extended family who are all now living with me.

Healthcare services were already at crisis point prior to this offensive, with shortages of medical supplies a daily reality. But Israel’s bombardment has resulted in the near total destruction of what services we had. Beds are full so patients lie in corridors with serious wounds left untreated. Medical supplies and staff are both exhausted.

[See also: Israel, Gaza and a war without limit]

The grounds of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City have turned into what is effectively a refugee camp filled with those desperate for safe shelter from the bombing. The main trauma centre in Gaza is so overwhelmed that they can only treat patients in need of life-saving procedures, such as those with neurosurgical or vascular injuries. Those with limb injuries must wait. Morgues are already overflowing, with the dead piled outside.

Most Palestinians here in Gaza would now rather be killed than left injured and in need of medical treatment. This is a more merciful way for them to die.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

In the week following the 7 October attack, more than one million people are estimated to have been displaced in Gaza as they flee bombardment. Yet many are not able to leave. For critically ill hospital patients, evacuation orders are a death sentence. Others, like me, refuse to leave. I am already a Palestinian refugee, and I refuse to become a refugee for the second time.

In any case, those who have left have not found safety. Many fleeing southwards have been killed on the road. Some fear that this is just the beginning, and that civilians will be pushed ever further south into Egypt – ­permanently and forcibly displaced.

What we have witnessed in Gaza this month has never been seen before. My colleague, the British-Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah, told me that in one morning he had received two children from different places who were both severely injured and who both carried the label  “wounded child, no surviving family”. I have seen children writing their names on the palms of their hands because when they die, they want people to know who they are, and they want to be buried with their loved ones. How many dead bodies does the world need to see before it takes action to end these atrocities?

[See also: Misinformation in the Israel-Hamas war is a serious problem]

Content from our partners
Unlocking the potential of a national asset, St Pancras International
Time for Labour to turn the tide on children’s health
How can we deliver better rail journeys for customers?

Topics in this article : , , , ,

This article appears in the 18 Oct 2023 issue of the New Statesman, War on Three Fronts

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU