Syrian doctors who returned from Gaza came back with images of the ‘spilled blood of a people that desired freedom and paid for it in the blood of their children, giving an example to the whole world in resilience, sacrifice and resistance’.
The first Syrian medical delegation consisting of ten doctors recounted the destruction and crimes against the Palestinian people they witnessed in Gaza.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ali Kanaan described the cases they treated, which included white phosphorous injuries, dismemberment and lacerations, most of which were inflicted on women and children.
He pointed out that some patients had no visible injuries, but upon examination the doctors would discover severe internal bleeding of an unknown cause.
Dr Kanaan said a nine-year-old child came in with a shattered bone in his arm and muscle damage.
They extracted a metal object from the wound that resembles a magnetic disc with metal on it that apparently works like a buzz saw.
He added that some of these weapons have unknown consequences and may cause terminal cancer, and that some of the substances used may perforate the liver, intestines and blood vessels.
Vascular surgeon Dr Ahmad Zaitoun praised the organisation and cooperation among workers at the al-Shifaa Hospital during the aggression, adding that he never heard a child or a woman complaining about the resistance.
He stated that injuries were severe, ranging from serious burns to amputations, head injuries and even charred bodies, stressing that there were no signs of bullets and that all injuries were caused by banned weapons such as depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and other unknown weapons.
Dr Zaitoun stressed that it was Israel which had prevented medical aid from reaching the Gaza hospitals, which caused a serious lack of medical supplies during the many operations that had to be performed on the high numbers of injured people.
Dr Safwan Kharaba, Chief of the Syrian Doctors’ Syndicate and head of the second Syrian doctors delegation consisting of 16 doctors, underlined the horrible images engraved in his memory during his time in the Gaza Strip and the pressure exerted on the delegation to leave the sector before the closing of the crossing points.
Member of the second delegation Dr Thanaa Abbas said they have documents constituting strong proof of the aggression’s brutality and proving the use of banned weapons.
She affirmed that the delegation will work to deliver this evidence to relevant international legal authorities.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Yousef Asaad pointed out that despite the destruction, the Palestinian people were celebrating victory, and that they appreciated the Syrian leadership and people’s stand.
Anaesthesiologist Dr Ussama Yanes underlined that the resolution of Palestinian women and children exceeds that of the men, and that their resilience is indescribable despite the suffering, hunger, homelessness and destruction.
Separately,, US Democratic representatives Brian Baird and Keith Ellison also expressed shock at the plight of the war-shattered Gaza Strip during a rare visit to the Palestinian territory last Thursday.
‘The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering,’ Baird said in a statement issued jointly with Ellison during their visit which coincided with a similar trip by US Senator John Kerry.
Ellison, a representative from Minnesota, harshly criticised restrictions on the delivery of desperately needed goods into the coastal strip that has been under a crippling Israeli blockade.
‘People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in,’ he said.
‘The stories about the children affected me the most,’ said Ellison. ‘No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.’
Baird, from Washington, said the situation he saw was shocking and troubling beyond words.
‘The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, of entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart-wrenching,’ he said.
Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress, hailed US President Barack Obama for acting ‘quickly to send much needed humanitarian funding to Gaza for this effort.’
‘However, the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food, and repair and reconstruction materials are unacceptable and indefensible,’ he added.
Ellison and Baird both stressed that their visit did not have the official sanction of the Obama administration.
They said they held talks with civilians and relief workers, while Palestinian officials stressed they did not meet with any representatives of Hamas.
During their visit, the pair visited Izzbet Abed Rabbo, a community in northern Gaza devastated during the deadly 22-day Israeli offensive that ended on January 18.
An estimated 14,000 to 20,000 homes and other buildings were damaged or destroyed during the military offensive in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were martyred.
‘The first and most urgent priority must be to help the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately,’ Baird and Ellison said in their joint statement.
‘Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing,’ they added.
l The BBC’s governing body has ruled that director general Mark Thompson’s decision not to air a Gaza aid appeal after Israel’s assault was ‘a reasonable decision’.
The BBC’s refusal to show the TV appeal prompted angry protests and 40,000 complaints to the BBC.
But the BBC Trust said it would not overturn his decision and that Thompson had ‘acted correctly throughout’.
Both the BBC and Sky News had refused to show the appeal made by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) despite aid agencies saying hundreds of thousands of people were in dire need of food, blankets and water.
The app eal was shown by ITV, Channel4 and Channel Five.
Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said he and his colleagues recognised that Thompson’s decision was ‘a matter of great controversy for many members of the public’.
Lyons said: ‘The director general argued that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deeply divisive and that the suffering of civilians plays a central part in the political case each side makes in the “court of world opinion”.’
Lyons added that Thompson had consequently thought it ‘impossible in this case to separate the political causes from the humanitarian consequences’.
Lyons continued: ‘In the director general’s view, the appeal would, by its very nature, have shown only one aspect of the conflict and broadcasting it, he argues would have implied a significant level of the endorsement by the BBC of the appeal itself – thereby putting BBC impartiality at risk.’
Lyons said the Trust had found this to be ‘a reasonable argument’ and that the decision taken was ‘within the parameters of reasonable decisions open to him’.