A team of Arab doctors who rushed to the rescue of thousands of civilians injured during Israel’s 22-day onslaught against the sealed off Gaza Strip are coming back with heart-breaking stories of horror and never-seen-before injuries.
“The destruction and death I saw in front of my bare eyes were unprecedented in human history,” Mohamed el-Sheriey, an Egyptian doctor, told a joint press conference on Sunday, January 25.
“They couldn’t even be masterminded by the most evil-minded of fiction writers.”
A few days after Israel unleashed its war machine on December 27, el-Sheriey packed up and joined a team of Egyptian doctors who hurried toward Gaza where killing, injuring, and maiming were at their highest.
Having stumbled on a thousand hurdles on the road, he elbowed his way to Khan Yunis – a city home to about 200,000 Palestinians – under a complete blanket of Israeli bombs and rockets.
But what el-Sheriey saw there was a scene from a horror movie, or rather a leaf borrowed from the book of World War I and World War II.
Most of the victims who came to Naser Medical Center in Khan Yunis, where he and other colleagues worked, were impossible to rescue.
The types of injuries they received were so abnormal and enormous that several teams of specialists used to band together to save the life of one victim.
One of the pictures el-Sheriey brought with him showed the internal and bloody contents of a human body that has lost its lower part and was left with the upper part only.
Shreds of flesh dangled from the body and revealed a totally devastated being, while the doctors stood around it – hands full of blood – not knowing which way to turn or which part to save.
Images of destruction on TV or newspapers shocked millions of people around the world, astounded human rights activists and numbed relief workers.
Even to men whose profession taught them to come to terms with death, the scenes were hard to comprehend.
They saw people admitted to hospital with burnt organs and lacerated tissues or even without the lower half of their bodies.
One of the victims – currently laying at the Egyptian Red Crescent Hospital in Cairo – received a wound in his right cheek.
The wound, which was almost two inches big, continues to grow bigger and bigger by the hour.
“When we turn off the light, the wound becomes luminous,” said Rashid Emam, a medical specialist from al-Azhar University.
“This can never happen without the presence of banned materials in the bombs and rockets Israel fired against the people of the Strip.”
Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who worked in Gaza’s main Shifa hospital during the first weeks of the Israeli blitz, accused Israel of using the Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) that shreds the victims’ bodies in pieces.
Under international pressures, Israel admitted Saturday using white phosphorous, a chemical that burns away human flesh to the bone, in shelling Gaza.
Emad Fahd, an Iraqi doctor, went to Gaza and came to Cairo to take part in documenting the Israeli atrocities.
“What happened in Gaza is a copy of what happened in Iraq,” he believes.
“The Americans were using weapons for the first time in Iraq and the Israeli have done the same in Gaza. This is a crime humanity will never forget.”
Fahd and other doctors say Israel had a plan to usher in a new generation of handicapped Palestinians who would never be able to defend their land.
“The Israelis hate life, they hate beauty and greenery,” says Ahmed Nada, a bone specialist and one of the members of the Egyptian medical delegation to Gaza.
“They’ve uprooted the trees, destroyed the fields, and devastated all homes.”
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says 4,100 homes have been totally destroyed and 17,000 others damaged in the Israeli air, sea and land bombing.
About 1,500 factories and workshops, 25 mosques, 31 government buildings and 10 water or sewage pipes were also damaged.
The bureau estimates the physical damage so far to about $1.9bn (£1.4bn), including about $200m (£140m) of damage to infrastructure.
The Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum, an online museum that aims to pay tribute to the victims of the war and tell their story, is joining hands with the Arab Doctors Union in documenting the Israeli crimes.
“We’ve done this documentation in order to let the world know what happened in Gaza,” said Dallia Youssef, one of the supervisors of the museum.
They are contemplating the possibility of turning the online project into a real museum in an Arab capital to exhibit the photos of the victims and their stories.
“The victims have their own stories and these stories are worth telling.”