Palestinians escape ‘Israeli massacre’ at Kamal Adwan Hospital

On a long and narrow, winding road surrounded by destruction on all sides, dozens of Palestinians, the majority of whom are women, patients and the elderly, rush to escape repeated Israeli attacks on Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip.

The scale of destruction and death is a painful and daily reality facing the residents of the northern region of the besieged Gaza Strip since the launch of Israel’s genocidal war on 7 October.

Every day, hundreds of Palestinian families who decided to persevere and remain in their places of residence were forced to move from one pulverised site to another in a desperate struggle to survive.

Hadia Al-Attar’s family is among the countless others forced to be displaced more than ten times inside the Jabalia camp. In the process, more than 15 of their relatives and family members have been killed by Israeli strikes, while around 25 others are still missing, some under the rubble and others whose final fates are entirely unknown.

“With every displacement, I lose a brother, relative or a friend (…) I am no longer willing to bear another loss (…) I have not struggled with my family throughout this period for us to die so easily,” in a voice mixed with sorrow and anger, Hadia said to The New Arab as she helped her brother move her elderly mother onto a medical bed to escape from inside Kamal Adwan Hospital.

“What does Israel want from us? What does the world want from us? Do they want to exterminate us and get rid of our existence? Why all this hatred against the Palestinians in Gaza? And why all this shameful silence of the Arabs and the world?” the 25-year-old young woman asked.

Suddenly, the sound of a huge explosion interrupted Hadia, and she began to run as grey dust obscured the view after an Israeli airstrike. 

Dozens of displaced Palestinians and medical personnel decided to evacuate Kamal Adwan Hospital after the Israeli army launched several attacks in its vicinity and directly targeted the hospital. Both the medical staff and the civilians all fear Israel committing “more massacres against those present there, similar to the Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals.”

Hussam Abu Safeia, director of Kamal Adwan Hospital, was among dozens of newly displaced people from the hospital. It could be an opportunity for him and his team to establish a field medical hospital in the west of northern Gaza to help the residents of the north.

Abu Safeia told TNA while he was following the conditions of patients and displaced people trying to escape from the hospital, “We decided to evacuate the hospital after three people were injured on Tuesday evening in front of the hospital departments (…) We do not want what happened in the hospital last December to be repeated or for the Israeli occupation to commit more massacres here.”

“We tried to stay as long as possible and provide our medical services to patients in the northern Gaza Strip, but we will not allow the occupation the opportunity to kill more and more medical staff, patients, and even the displaced,” Abu Safeia added.

However, Abu Safeia explains that dozens of patients and medical staff are still stuck in the hospital because some patients could not evacuate due to critical health conditions, noting that the World Health Organization is working to secure their exit.

“Unfortunately, if the World Health Organization did not succeed in evacuating the patients, this means that they have been condemned to death,” he stressed. 

On Tuesday, Kamal Adwan Hospital was hit by artillery shelling From the Israel army stationed in its vicinity, damaging the reception and emergency department and significantly destroying the in-patient department.

After this attack, the hospital was evacuated and is officially out of service. There is now no health facility providing health care to the sick and wounded in the northern regions, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip.

Om Mohammed, an elderly Palestinian woman, told TNA, “There were Israeli snipers everywhere… We were afraid that we would be killed and our bodies would be left to decompose in the streets, as happened to many residents here months ago.”

“They are Nazi criminals who enjoy killing, torturing, and displacing us without any conscience. They targeted everything in our lives and did not leave us any chance to survive,” the elderly woman cried out. 

Kamal Adwan Hospital was established in 2002. It is the second largest hospital in the northern Gaza Strip governorate after the Indonesian Hospital, which was transformed into a central hospital in 2014.

The hospital, along with Al Awda Hospital, became the only two operating hospitals in the north after Israel took the Indonesian hospital out of service last November.

According to the Ministry, Kamal Adwan Hospital had 334 members of the medical staff, including doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technicians, and administrators. It covered the towns and camps of Jabalia, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun, and about 200 workers remained during the last month, according to sources from the hospital.

Throughout Israel’s war, the hospital witnessed several attacks, most notably the massacre of 12 December, in which the occupation executed patients and displaced people and arrested 20 individuals.

Doctors Without Borders warned of a “health catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip, where patients are dying due to their critical conditions and their inability to receive treatment due to lack of capabilities as a result of the closure of the crossings.

Mohammed Abu Mughasib, deputy medical coordinator of the international organisation in Gaza, told TNA, “If the Rafah border crossing does not open soon, there will be a major disruption, and it will affect the medical activities that we carry out in the Gaza Strip. This applies to all actors, not just Doctors without Borders.”

On 11 May, the Israeli army ordered the forcible displacement of all residents and persons seeking shelter in the areas of Jabalia, the neighbourhoods of Al-Salam, Al-Nour, Tal Al-Zaatar, the Beit Lahia project, the Jabalia camp, Ezbet Mlin, and the neighbourhoods of Al-Rawda, Al-Nuzha, Al-Jarn, Al-Nahda and Al-Zuhur, and to head towards the west of Gaza City.

Since then, the Israeli army has launched an indiscriminate attack on Jabalia, while Palestinian militants continue to resist it and carry out “specific” military operations against Israeli forces that are in the region.

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