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Omar Sabha takes a selfie on the sandy shores of the Mediterranean Sea

‘Agony and pain’: US health professionals reflect on the horrors in Gaza | Israel-Palestine conflict News

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The hospital where Sabha and Khan were stationed was also feeling a strain. Though it was designed for 200 people, it housed more than 10,000, according to Sabha.

Many patients were suffering from severe injuries. Others faced amputations. Few had anywhere else to go.

Sabha recalled that there was only “one bathroom for every 200 to 300 people”. Doctors, meanwhile, had to improvise emergency room (ER) settings.

“When patients come into the ER, they don’t have a bed for them. They’re seeing them on the ground,” Sabha said. “In that hospital hallway, you’re always jumping over someone’s leg, over a body.”

Sabha remembers seeing 20 to 30 patients each day — all while fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. A practising Muslim, he survived on four hours of sleep and approximately two protein bars a day, he said.

But the volume of patients did not just tax the hospital’s limited space: It also stretched resources thin. Gaza has been under a heightened siege since October 7, with food, water and medical supplies scarce.

That meant Sabha and Khan had to work with limited medications and instruments.

“We definitely had to be very creative and get out of our comfort zone,” Khan said. He explained that, in normal circumstances, “when we fix fractures, we use certain types of screws, certain types of plates, certain types of rods”.

But in Gaza, “we kind of had to use the wrong implant to fix something because that’s all that was available”.

The health situation was made all the more dire by Gaza’s crumbling infrastructure. Constant bombings had left buildings weakened and unstable, and the lack of sanitation facilities bred rampant mosquitoes.

“There is no sanitation system there right now. The garbage is just piling up. So that smell is kind of around everywhere,” Khan said.

“Imagine you walk by a junkyard. It wasn’t a pleasant smell.”

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