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|Friday, 13-Feb-2009 14:00
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Received an email today conveying the experience of Doctor Jeffrey Hassan, from An-Nur Hospital, Bandar Baru Bangi who went to Gaza recently. It is a lengthy n very meaningful personal account...n of course experience such as this should be shared with others
It is now 4 days since we returned from our trip to Gaza /Cairo. Have been
awaiting my respected elders/colleagues) to input first but since there
appears none forthcoming, I will write my thoughts and experience and
humbly request them to correct or input as necessary. (Pleae note These
are my own personal views and do not represent any organisation including
MERCY Malaysia. Please forward with discretion )
We left on a MERCY Malaysia mission on the 27th of January ( 8days after
unilateral truce by Israel) after filling up our wills in sealed
envelopes. Sent off by The MERCY office team,Dr Faizal Perdaus (acting
Prez MERCY) our families and Dr Musa (x prez PPIM). The team consisted of
Prof Hatta Shahrom (x PPIM president), Dr Fauziah Hassan (O&G, APSH,x
treasurer,MERCY Malaysia), Dr Norherah, (Family practitioner) , Ms Reem
Bashir( a sudanese psychologist) . After a 12 hour flight, 2 hrs stop ( no
deplane in mumbai) we arrived in Cairo at 5 am on the 28th. Immediate
briefing and off we were to the Rafah border about 4 hrs away except our
driver got lost and we got a free tour of the sinai and the Suez canal. We
finally reached the Rafah Egyptian border crossing at 430 pm. After 40
mins (which is like a record ,as most people who try to get into Gaza
never manage to, and those who do wait hours to days on end, many leave
for home with just having seen this border crossing.) we were through
Egyptian Immigration. We praise Allah for everything.
We entered Gaza with the Azan of magrib at abt 530pm with the MERCY
logistics officer En Hapis. On hand to greet us were Dr Ikram (Anaes
Lecturer CUCMS) and Dr Al Amin(Surgeon Tawakal) who were the initial team
in.(they had come in the day of the truce or just after). We proceeded to
Palestinian immigration and were welcomed warmly. Prof Hatta even managed
to get a soda from one of the officers. We then went to our lodgings and
met the previous team under Dr Heng.,Drs Lai, Azlina, Asmarawati, Khairol,
Dr Azhar Abdul Aziz (x VP MERCY )who had come with the Qatar team was also
there. I had tried to meet him in Kl last summer but Allah planned for us
to meet in war torn Gaza.
We had been assigned to Nasser hospital,in Khan Younis, 20 mins north of
Rafah, named after the Egytian prez who had funded it. 300 bed and handled
500 patients during the Israeli aggression. Some department good, most run
down. Many equipment down as no spare parts allowed in and no maintenance.
The only equipment working in physiotherapy was the manual one and one
traction. The rest were all broken down. The ECG, EST machines etc were
ancient. Dr Fauziah,Dr Norhera surved the OG departemt and other O&G
hospitals and saw areas that needed improvement. Prof Hatta and Ms Reem
were taken on trips to asess the psychosocial needs of the Gazans.
On the first day there was a drone attack in front of the hospital. Maybe
10-15 m from where I was doing my rounds. There was a loud bang, flames
and massive smoke. 2 mujahidin on a motor bike had been targeted by the
drone. Both survived alhamdulillah altho one had to go to Ot. 2 other
passers by were also sent to OT.13 kids who were around had to be treated
for shrapnel wounds. Prof Hatta who had gone to A&E noted that the
children were stoic and did not cry even though they were in obvious pain.
Most treated as outpatients. This was during a supposed truce. Death is
very near in Gaza.
We toured the areas of destruction and I found comparison with the
Earthquate in Adapazari in Turkey where we had also been on a MERCY
mission. Whole blocks were flattend. Olive groves were uprooted, schools,
Universities, mosques were not spared. Parliament was destroyrd.Even UN
schools,building were damaged.The Islamic Universtity of Gaza had two
blocks that housed 75 labs totally destroyd. They ahd just acquired some
DNA machines abt 3 million worth as they have quite bit of genetic disease
in Palestine.These wrere destroyed. The dean of Medicine was an old friend
from my days in Dublin. Holds an Irish passport but when asked to evacute
by the Irish ambasador in Tel Aviv he refused.Indeed we were told that
when the borders were opened Gazans came back instead of leaving for
Egypt..” This is our land, we were born here and we will die here was what
The mosques in front of Shifa hospital was just a pile of rubble with a
fruit carton written on it masjid Shifa. The new wing of the hospital had
also been hit. This hospital had been taking the brunt of the casualties.
They have a collection of gruesome slides of the victims, killed, maimed,
kids adults, women.. At the height of the conflict they were taking in 200
patients an hour.
The homes of ordinary Gazans were also piles of rubble. Some had just been
built. They had moved to relatives homes or had to erect temporrary
shelters.one was just the black plastic sheeting It was winter and I was
wrapped in 4 layers. I wonderd how they coped especially the kids. May
Allah always protect them.
Everywhere we went were greeted very warmly that we were feeling guilty.
We would be served good food altho I dont believe they themselves were
taking as good as they were serving their guests. This was true Muslim
Arab hospitality. In severe adversity , guests were still treated well.
May Allah increase His bounty on them.
We heard stories of the mujahideen and the help that Alllah had sent them.
Malaikat had come and fought with them. One mujahid had been blown up to
pieces and the only piece of him left had a beautiful aroma that was smelt
by all the villager who had come. They would be hiding and waiting for the
enemy for days surviving only on water and dates. Tanks would blow up and
their explosives still be intact. A mujahid heard a voice telling him to
wait in his hiding place till he had a chance to strike the enemy,which he
did. The enemy claimed that they had fought with ghosts and with people in
white uniforms. The mujahideen did not wear white uniforms. May Allah
always be with the steadfast.
The thing that struck us most was their spirit. Indeed they were carrying
on as normal a life as they could. As much as the enemy wanted them to
surrender and cower they stood firm and fought. For 23 days they were
bombarded from sea,land and air and they were steadfast. The craters made
by F 16 bombs were nearly two storeys high! The enemy with 500 tanks could
not enter the cities except fight at the peripheries. In the 6 day
war(1967) 3 Arab nations were defeated in 6 days! We were told that there
were even weddings during the onslaught. Children were playing football
and were trying to go to school. May Allah continue to be with them.
We met amazing people. A lady we met told us that after the enemy had
bombed the mosques her 14 year old son would pray every prayer in the
mosque for he wished to be syahid while worshipping Allah. She had told
him that if he decided to become a mujahid himself he must tell her so as
for her to make doa for him and not find out only when he was syahid. Prof
Hatta/Ms Reem were offered bowls of soup by a refugee grandma who had her
grandson syahid. She was sitting amongst a pile of rubble that had been
her abode. After relating her story to them and crying a minute she
offered the little food she had to them. May Allah alleviatee all their
Everytime we asked “what can we do for you?” The answer would be;
“Please do not stop making doa for us”.
They did not ask for money or food or anything material only that we do
not stop beseeching Allah to help them in their struggle against a
We met with persons who told us “We promise you three things:-
We will defend this land
We will liberate this land
We will pray with you in Al Aqsa one day soon”
Medically the Drs are quite a lot. They however have not been able to
leave Gaza for training and some of them had not been out for 10-12
years,.They thus need help in training. Equipment needs to be upgraded and
new equipment added. InsyaAllah we have made these recommendations to
MERCY Malaysia. There is also plan to build a rehab centre in south Gaza.
There is a state of the art one in North Gaza that was damaged but still
functioning. There is also plan to setup a MERCY Malaysia-Palestine
We were supposed to stay till the 4th February but were asked to evacuate
as there was worry about increased bombings.There had been one near our
lodgings the day after we arrived. On midnite of the 1st we received sms
and calls from the embassy,and MERCY base camp Cairo for us to evacuate
asap. We heard six bombs dropped by F16s near the house and the house
shuddered with the explosions. We moved to the ground floor and evacuated
the next day back to cairo.
We had few more meetings to attend and a few more things to do but fate
was such that we had to leave. We could leave when things got hot but the
Gazans cannot. As Mr Ging , UN officer in Gaza said , “There is no safe
place in Gaza”.
Indeed, Death is close in Gaza or tis the shortest path to Jannah
I wish to record my gratitude to
Our understanding families who had understood the need for us to go
MERCY Malaysia for providing the opportunity
The MERCY team in Cairo
The Malaysia Embassy in Cairo who had been amazingly helpful in
facilitating our entry into Gaza especially En Fauzi
My extraordinary teammates, May Allah bless them all.
Wassallam and May Allah protect all those in Gaza,
Note : d poster on d left above was probably created b4 d ceasefire...since it has been reported more than that were killed. These graphics were not part of d email...but very meaningful nonetheless