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Dr Hassan, who works for Christian Aid’s local partner Palestinian Medical Relief Society, risks his life by cycling across Gaza to give vital medication. Palestinian Medical Relief Society/Christian Aid

Doctor 'I have lived through many wars in Gaza - this one is different - we've lost so many'

Dr Hassan, who cycles to patients now because there is no fuel for his car says Israel is bombing crowded places, ‘they are bombing everywhere’.

With no fuel left to run his car, Dr Hassan has been cycling across Gaza to give vital medicine and first aid to his patients despite the constant bombardment by Israel since the October 7 Hamas attack. He carries out these duties even though he has been displaced himself and is now living with his family in a small shipping container.

The doctor runs the chronic disease centre for Christian Aid’s local partner Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), but since the start of the current crisis, he has also been working with PMRS’ mobile health team, which delivers medicine and carries out home visits to change dressings for the wounded. Here he describes his vital work as well as detailing the worsening situation facing Gaza’s nearly depleted health service:

DURING THE FIRST days of the war, the area where I live was bombed and there was a lot of damage to the windows and the doors of my house. I decided to leave and moved to central Gaza with my family. My wife, my five children, my sister and her child are now sleeping in a shipping container. I am sleeping outside in my car.

My car has no fuel so I travel about 15km by bicycle to get to Gaza City for work. It takes me about one and a half hours to get there. I’m 54 years old, so it’s not easy for me to ride my bicycle for so long at my age.

My journey is very dangerous. I cycle as much as I can along the beach to avoid roads and buildings as they are being hit by bombs. But even this route isn’t safe, as sometimes rockets come from military ships too. Whenever the roads have been bombed I have to carry my bicycle on my back to get past the debris.

Dr Hassan 2 Dr Hassan, who works for Christian Aid’s local partner Palestinian Medical Relief Society, risks his life by cycling across Gaza. Palestinian Medical Relief Society / Christian Aid Palestinian Medical Relief Society / Christian Aid / Christian Aid

The mobile health team are treating injured people who have been discharged from overcrowded hospitals. We follow up with them through home visits. The team deals with 30-35, sometimes, 40 cases a day. They are visiting them at home, dressing their injuries, sometimes giving them antibiotics and taking care of the children if they are sick.

Finding shelter

Children I treat for diabetes are now sheltering in UNRWA run schools. It’s getting colder now, so a lot of the children in the shelters have coughs and bad colds. They are deteriorating very fast as their immune systems are low because they are not eating enough food. These infections are much worse for children with chronic diseases, especially for those with diabetes.

We have a shortage of medicine. Sometimes we are using one bottle of cough syrup for three children. We try to bring them one bottle of antibiotics and the next day we try to find another, so they can complete the course. It’s very difficult. After I treat these children, I have about 10-15 other patients in Gaza City that I reach by bicycle.

I have had a relationship with these patients for a long time, so I want to help them.

The hospitals are crowded with civilians who are sheltering to escape the bombardment of their homes. They have no place to go, especially if the nearby schools are full. They are sleeping in between the beds of injured patients, which makes it difficult for health workers to do their jobs. But we can’t blame them and we can’t ignore them. Most of them are children with mothers, the men are staying outside.

palestinians-take-shelter-in-the-nasser-hospital-during-ongoing-israeli-bombardment-in-khan-younis-gaza-strip-friday-oct-27-2023-ap-photofatima-shbair Palestinians take shelter in the Nasser hospital during ongoing Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In Al Quds hospital, some people are even sleeping next to the doors to the intensive care unit. This is very dangerous for the patients because of the risk of contamination. It is not easy to work in these conditions.

Hospitals are full

All the children’s hospitals are out of action now. They are not accepting any cases at all. They are trying to find fuel to continue their work. Without fuel for their cars, it’s impossible for families to bring their children to the hospital. If we can reach them, then maybe they will be OK. But if we can’t then there is no guarantee these children will live.

In the centre for chronic diseases, we support hundreds of patients with type 1 diabetes. They are the priority for us. Some of the insulin we have is administered in a pen. It can be kept at room temperature and doesn’t need a refrigerator. We also have some oral diabetes medications. Our other type of insulin needs to be kept in refrigerators, but since we have only two hours of electricity per day at our centre we gave it to the hospitals since they have generators, and they have been working, so they can help people.

I have lived through many wars in Gaza. But this war is not the same. We have lost a lot of doctors, nurses and hospital staff. Many healthcare workers have been killed by bombs and rockets hitting their homes.

They are bombing crowded places, bakeries, hospitals and homes. They are bombing everywhere.

If fuel totally runs out in Gaza, it will be a catastrophe. So many patients will die, especially those in intensive care units who are relying on ventilators, which will stop working without electricity. The hospitals will become a place where patients are only sent to the morgue. Fuel must be allowed to enter Gaza as soon as possible because I don’t think patients and hospitals can hold out much longer.

Christian Aid’s local partners are responding in Gaza by providing mobile medical and psychological care as well as mattresses and emergency food for displaced people. To donate to Christian Aid’s appeal, visit: