Bay Area doctor describes horrific scenes from frontline medical mission to Gaza

"It was not uncommon to see dead children," said Dr. Mohammed Subeh.

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Sunday, May 5, 2024
Bay Area doctor describes frontline medical mission to Gaza
South Bay Dr. Mohammed Subeh recently returned from a five-week medical mission to Rafah. He spoke about his first-hand experience.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- As U.S. and Arab leaders continue ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and Israel, the threat of a ground invasion looms over Rafah, a city in southern Gaza.

A South Bay doctor recently returned from a five-week medical mission to Rafah. He spoke about his first-hand experience from the frontlines.

Warning: this story contains gruesome details of war.

The destruction of Gaza is evident. The death toll is reported at over 34,000 people. But Dr. Mohammad Subeh says those stats don't capture the reality on the ground.

"What that means for a child who just lost their entire family in the bombing, and who is the only surviving family member, who has also lost a limb. And what does that mean for him, physically speaking and mentality speaking?" Subeh said.

Dr. Subeh addressed a capacity crowd at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek about his recent five-week medical mission to Gaza, sharing graphic images and details of the work he did at a makeshift field hospital in Rafah. The hospital was set up to help 40 to 50 people a day. Instead, he says, they treated more than 1,000 people daily.

"You don't know if you are going to have antibiotics. Definitely didn't have anesthetics. We just had ketamine, which is a dissociative medicine, that disassociates your mind from your body. And were doing major surgeries, opening chests, abdomens, resectioning intestines," said Subeh, who lives in the South Bay and works at two South Bay hospitals.

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Since his return, he has also been meeting with elected officials, most recently in Washington D.C. His goal is to give a first-hand account of the war. He adds, the narrative that the war in Gaza is just against Hamas militants, didn't match what he experienced.

"Not once did I see a combatant," Subeh said. "You think of a soldier fighting another soldier, and there in crossfire and civilians, unfortunately, are hit by the crossfire. All of my patients were civilians that came to me, shot deliberately."

In addition, he says Israeli drones shot missiles just blocks away from the field hospital.

"Our field hospital that we set up was in Rafah, in the safe zone. Despite that, we were experiencing missiles as close as a block or two away. In these deconflicted zones, which should be protected," Subeh said.

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Saturday's event also featured the exhibit Soul of My Soul. It is a series of biographies and photos of the children killed in Gaza

"If they are in Gaza, if they are here in America, wherever they are, they are children at the end of the day. And they deserved to be protected," said Yosra Abdelaziz, who works on the project.

Subeh, a Palestinian refugee himself, says he is hopeful that the current round of negotiations between Israel and Hamas will lead to a breakthrough. But also hopes part of that includes more accountability and an end to the humanitarian blockade, which is keeping aid out of Gaza.

"A 196 humanitarian aid workers were killed and we don't hear about that. That tells me that the actions speak louder than the words that we are hearing," Subeh said. "I just pray and hope for a better tomorrow. Not only for the Palestinians, but for the world in general."

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