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Doctor who saved Senator Duckworth’s life says he’s stuck in Gaza but continues to help his patients

The American doctor who helped save the life of Senator Tammy Duckworth 20 years ago said from Gaza that his life and those of other doctors would be in danger if they tried to leave the compound where they are trapped.

“We can’t leave. If we leave, we have been told it is at our own risk,” Dr Adam Hamawy, who is in Rafah in southern Gaza, said via video call. “So if we leave the hospital grounds, then we become legitimate targets. »

Hamawy said he could hear nighttime airstrikes around the Gaza hospital as he spoke to NBC News. After the strikes, we have to wait to see how many victims will arrive.

Dr. Adam Hamawy performs surgery at the European Hospital in the Khan Younis region of Gaza.Courtesy of Dr. Adam Hamawy

“We are tired, but we still work during the day. We are doing our best with the resources we have to continue the mission we are here to do: to care for the people of Gaza, the injured and the sick,” Hamawy said.

“We hope to be able to return home soon and be replaced by another team,” he said.

Hamawy, of Princeton, New Jersey, is one of 10 American doctors in a team of 19 medical professionals from the Palestinian American Medical Association who traveled to Gaza this month to provide assistance to the European hospital in the Khan Younis region of Gaza.

On Monday, they were unable to leave because the Rafah border crossing to Egypt was closed.

The Israeli army seized the Gaza side of the Rafah border on May 7 as it prepares what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised will be an offensive in the city to attack Hamas.

“The intense part of the fighting, the crushing of the battalions, will only happen in a few weeks,” Netanyahu said in an interview with CNBC.

The United States opposes a large-scale military operation in Rafah, citing a humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said this week that around a million desperate Gazans have no safe place to evacuate and that “a full-scale offensive on Rafah will not cannot take place.”

More than 35,000 people have died in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, in the war that began after Hamas carried out terrorist attacks against Israel that killed more than 1,200 people.

Residents walk past the emergency room of the European Hospital in the Khan Younis neighborhood of Gaza.Courtesy of Dr. Adam Hamawy

In the sense that Hamawy and other doctors cannot leave without becoming targets in the war, “yes, we are trapped,” he said.

“What helps in that sense is that we have something to do,” Hamawy said, including operating and treating people. “We’re all happy to have this ability to do something, and we don’t just, you know, look out the window and hope for the best.”

Duckworth, D-Ill., says Hamawy provided critical surgical care and saved her life after she was seriously injured when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. Duckworth, a Guard Black Hawk helicopter pilot national team of Illinois, lost both his legs. .

Duckworth said she and others were “shaking every tree, calling on everyone to make sure we’re doing everything we can to ensure the safe passage of these doctors to wherever we can get them.” .

Hamawy said they also don’t know when they will be able to leave.

The life of an average person in Gaza “is absolutely horrible,” he said. He cited a nurse who went to work on the verge of collapse.

Hamawy said he took his wife and two children from Rafah to a “safe zone” – a desert area with no shelter, no food and no electricity, where they waited eight hours to get a jug of water that did not was not intended for use. to drink – but that they had no choice but to drink it anyway.

“That’s how it’s been for the last seven days,” he said.

Hamawy is grateful that the choice did not come down to leaving Gaza without replacements to provide essential care.

“I hope this is not accepted as an offer,” he said. “Our demand has always been to be allowed to leave freely and for other aid workers to be able to enter freely.”

For now, they are waiting and working with the resources they have under difficult conditions.

“Everyone keeps asking do we know when we’re going to leave, do we have any news, do we have any idea — and honestly, we have no idea,” Hamawy said.

“It could be tomorrow; it could take two weeks,” he said.

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News Source : www.nbcnews.com

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