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Doctors Without Borders pediatrician on Gaza humanitarian crisis

Palestinians look for survivors under the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (Mohammed Dahman/AP)
Palestinians look for survivors under the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (Mohammed Dahman/AP)

In Gaza, health workers are operating in brutal conditions. They are caring for the sick and gravely wounded at great risk to their safety and with little food, water or medical supplies.

An estimated 190 health workers have been killed since the beginning of the Israeli Defense Force’s air raids on Gaza.

Dr. Tanya Haj-Hassan is a pediatric intensive care doctor who works part-time with
the humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders.

Over the past decade, she has worked in Gaza and the West Bank as a medical trainer with several organizations.

She is the co-founder of the social media account Gaza Medic Voices, which shares
first-hand accounts from Gazan healthcare professionals.

Right now, she is in regular contact with fellow doctors in Gaza and collects their
testimonies. She says she hears a sense of despondency and hopelessness from them.

“My colleagues said they were getting 33 ml of clean water per day. It’s about an ounce. It’s nothing,” she says. “The rest of what they drink would be non-potable water. A lot of them have diarrheal disease and are getting sick as a consequence.”

Haj-Hassan says there is almost no food either.

“I think one of my colleagues said she had bread yesterday for the first time in three days,” she says, “and I can see in the videos and pictures that I’m sent that they’re looking thinner and thinner, as most of the population in Gaza is.”

But Haj-Hassan says health workers continue to work tirelessly in spite of losing their own relatives and colleagues and facing catastrophic human losses as a result of the bombings.


“They mention the suffering that they’re witnessing. They mention the children that they’re having to declare dead every day,” she says, “and the immense burns and pain that they’re unable to relieve because of the strangulation of the healthcare system.”

Haj-Hassan says she hopes calls from the international community for a ceasefire will be heeded soon.

“People don’t appreciate the humanity of people in the Gaza Strip,” she says, “despite the unthinkable and unprecedented situation that they are in, something that we would never have allowed to happen anywhere else in the world, in 2023.”

Haj-Hassan says a pediatrician in Gaza wrote to her about her harrowing experience.


“She said, ‘Unfortunately, we are on our way to collapsing from the horror of the scenes we see despite our strength. But it is beginning to fade, and the world is watching as if we are in a movie theater showing a horror movie, and the viewers are silent.’”

Click here for more coverage and different points of view.


Adeline Sire produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Sire adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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