Israeli hospital moves operations underground as conflict looms on northern border

ByJosh Einiger WABC logo
Monday, October 23, 2023
Israeli hospital moves operations underground
Josh Einiger reports from the helipad of an Israeli hospital that is now operating underground.

NAHARIYYA, Israel -- There is active fighting on the northern border of Israel with increasing concern that Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon will open up a front once the ground invasion in Gaza begins.

Galilee Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center, in Nahariyya, Israel has moved its facilities into the basement of their building.

The 700-bed hospital is completely vacant and now features some 400 beds underground.

They have converted their basement into a fully functioning hospital with an ER, operating room and an internal medicine department.

It has all of the things you would expect in a normal trauma center.

They are active, operational, and ready for war. They are ready for additional patients and soldiers who might get hurt in the fight.

They have already seen some 200 patients injured in the conflict on the northern border.

"I mean, we practice emergency preparedness all the time," said Sharon Mann, originally from Rockland County. "We are always working on our procedures, our protocols, and our systems to understand what we have to do in the time of crisis. To turn a hospital from its everyday care in times of peace which is what we hope will always be, to a situation where we have to pipe critical care in a crisis scenario."

Ambulances can even drive directly into the basement.

"We hope for the best as always, but we have to prepare for the worst," said Dr. Tsvi Scheleg, Department Director for Galilee Medical Center. "We know that Hezbollah is waiting around the other side of this ridge and hoping to start a war action against Israel. So, we have to prepare for this scenario and to be prepared for our community, our patients, but also God forbid, for our soldiers."

The upper left corner of the medical center was actually hit with a missile from Hezbollah back in 2006 during a previous conflict. It hit the ophthalmology department, and destroyed four patient rooms, but no one was hurt because all of the patients were in the basement.

This is something that they have been prepared for, for decades because this part of the world is in perpetual conflict. But in this most recent conflict, the stakes seem so much higher.

The IDF shared photos of new photos of airstrikes on a terror target in Gaza. But these targets are interlaced with civilians and there have been civilian casualties, many of them children.

There is international pressure for Israel to slow down their strikes until more people can be evacuated and more aid can arrive in Gaza.

There are also more than 220 hostages still being held in Gaza. It's feared they may not survive a ground invasion.

WATCH: Eyewitness News Reporter Josh Einiger reports from Israel