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Hospital in Gaza City Engulfed by Suffering

Death toll rises as Israel assaults targets in Hamas-run Gaza Strip, including a security compound and a group of smugglers' tunnels.

"It was like a natural disaster," he said. "The injured were increasing by the second, and most of them were in need of surgery. I was looking at the faces of patients. I feared I would find among them one of my sons or relatives."

Sahabani said he ran through the hospital Saturday searching for his two injured brothers. "I even went to the morgue, where bodies were piled up on the floor. I couldn't differentiate between faces. All were covered with blood."

On Tuesday, relatives of patients sat inside the hospital. Now and then, some would rush to the windows when they heard an airstrike. During a two-hour visit to the hospital, a Washington Post correspondent heard eight missiles land across Gaza City. Doctors walked around with radios in their hands listening to the news. It was their early-warning system to prepare for another wave of wounded. One patient died Monday and another Tuesday because of a lack of medicines, doctors said.

On Tuesday, the hospital had a shortage of 150 kinds of medicines and lacked 230 types of medical supplies, hospital officials said. They included basic items such as gloves and scissors, as well as devices to sterilize equipment and nitrogen for anesthesia. There was also a shortage of specialists.

On Sunday, doctors said, men believed to be Hamas fighters grabbed a patient, accusing him of being an Israeli collaborator. The patient had been inside a prison that was hit by a missile. The gunmen shot him dead. "They took revenge," Khalaf said.

Often, the most serious cases were being taken to Israel. On Tuesday, 6-year-old Ahmed Hawez was scheduled to cross the border, said Nabulsia, the intensive care director. The boy had Down syndrome and was at home when a missile struck nearby. His father and some of his brothers were killed. Shrapnel tore into Ahmed's brain.

"No one comes to visit him except his distant relatives," Nabulsia said. "He will receive better medical treatment in Israel. Perhaps a neurosurgeon can save him."

Nabulsia said he didn't mind asking Israel for help. "I studied in an Israeli hospital. I trust my colleagues in Israel. I believe medicine is an issue of humanity. It doesn't have boundaries."

Nabulsia had more immediate concerns: He had one month of supplies left in his intensive care unit. Worse, there are shortages of fuel across Gaza. And the hospital had only a few days of fuel left for the generator, he said.

And he worried about Ayad, attached to the respirator and without antibiotics. "What will happen?" Nabulsia asked. "Eventually she and others who are on respirators will die."

Kareem reported from Gaza City.


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