The director of a hospital destroyed during ‘Protective Edge’ has managed to rebuild part of the facility. Now he has about a month’s worth of fuel left to keep its back-up generators running. Without them, the hospital faces another complete shutdown.
At the height of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital was the target of fierce attacks from Israeli positions along Gaza’s eastern border, just over a kilometer away. Speaking to +972 at the time, the hospital’s director, Dr. Basman Alashi, described panic among his patients but insisted that he and his staff would continue to care for them — even if it meant paying the ultimate price.
“I am not going to leave my patients,” he said. “We either stay together, or we leave this world together.”
That kind of fight-or-flight urgency helped drive home the danger facing Gaza’s civilians during Protective Edge, moving thousands to protest worldwide. No matter one’s take on the assault or the reasons behind it, the scale of destruction in Gaza was undeniable, broadcast to the world through livestreams and harrowing images.
The guns, for the most part, are silent now, but for those who survived Israel’s 51-day war on Gaza, the images never fade.
When I caught up with Alashi again this week, he recalled in vivid detail how El Wafa staff evacuated their patients — “one by one on sheets and blankets” — before a July 23, 2014 airstrike leveled the 50-bed hospital, destroying “all [its] buildings, medical equipment, and stored medications.” The aftermath of that attack, which +972 documented here, completed a picture of devastation that needed no further exposition.
But if the airstrike and the events that led up to it evoked clear images of Gaza’s plight, Alashi now struggles to convey the impact of another danger—an ongoing electricity crisis that, according to the World Health Organization, could “leave thousands of people without access to life-saving health care.”
Part of the problem is that speaking about electricity outages can be arduous: power deficits are counted in megawatts, and the impact of sustained cuts is measured in things like raw sewage (which flows in millions of liters from shuttered waste treatment plants). Add to that humanitarian agencies’ year-on-year warnings about Gaza’s dire energy shortages, and it’s not surprising that this latest crisis is garnering less attention than, say, the revamped Hamas charter.
The urgency, however, is real. Although it’s true that electricity shortages in Gaza are nothing...Read More