March 4, 2024

LONDON: A British-Palestinian physician who labored in Gazan hospitals throughout the Israel-Hamas battle hopes that testimony he has given to UK police will result in prosecutions for warfare crimes.

Ghassan Abu Sitta, a plastic surgeon specializing in battle accidents, spent 43 days volunteering within the besieged Palestinian territory, largely on the al-Ahli and Shifa hospitals within the north.

The 54-year-old has already testified to the Met, the UK’s greatest police drive, in regards to the accidents he noticed and the sorts of weapons used, as a part of proof being gathered for an Worldwide Legal Courtroom probe into alleged warfare crimes dedicated by each side.

He is because of journey to The Hague this week to fulfill ICC investigators.

Abu Sitta mentioned the depth of the warfare was the best of the quite a few conflicts he has labored in, together with others in Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and south Lebanon.

“It’s the distinction between a flood and a tsunami — the entire scale is totally completely different,” he advised AFP throughout an interview in London on Sunday.

“Simply the sheer variety of the wounded, the scale of the calamity, the variety of youngsters killed, the depth of the bombing, the truth that inside days of the warfare beginning Gaza’s well being system was utterly overwhelmed.”

The warfare in Gaza was triggered by an unprecedented assault on Israel by Hamas on October 7, which resulted within the deaths of round 1,140 individuals, most of them civilians, in accordance with an AFP tally primarily based on official Israeli figures.

In response, Israel is finishing up a relentless bombardment and floor invasion which have killed no less than 22,835 individuals, most of them girls and youngsters, in accordance with the Hamas-run Gaza well being ministry.

Abu Sitta — born in Kuwait and who has lived in Britain because the late Eighties — arrived in Gaza from Egypt on October 9 as a part of a Medical doctors With out Borders medical staff.

“From the very starting our capability was lower than the variety of wounded we had been having to deal with. More and more we had been having to make very tough selections about who to deal with,” he recalled.

Abu Sitta remembers one 40-year-old man coming into hospital with shrapnel in his head. He wanted a CT scan, and to see a neurosurgeon, however they didn’t have one.

“We advised his youngsters and so they stayed round his trolley that night time till he handed away within the morning,” he mentioned.

The hospitals additionally shortly ran out of anesthetic and analgesic medicine, that means the surgeon needed to carry out “actually painful cleansing procedures of wounds” with out reduction.

“It was a selection between doing that or watching them succumb to the wound infections and dying from sepsis,” he added.

‘Voice on the surface’ 

Abu Sitta is adamant that he handled burn wounds brought on by white phosphorus. Its use as a chemical weapon is prohibited below worldwide regulation, however it’s allowed for illuminating battlefields and as a smokescreen.

“It has a really distinctive damage,” he mentioned.

“The phosphorus continues to burn till the very deepest a part of the physique, till you attain bone.”

Abu Sitta mentioned he left Gaza after turning into “redundant” as a result of an absence of medical provides meant he might not carry out surgical procedure.

He has spent a lot of his time again in Britain briefing politicians and humanitarian organisations on the pressing want for assist.

“I’ve been making an attempt to assist my sufferers who I left behind as a lot as I can by nearly being their voice on the surface.”

The Met says it’s obliged to collect proof for an ICC probe into alleged warfare crimes dedicated by each side.

Abu Sitta says he advised officers about what he witnessed, together with the usage of white phosphorus and assaults on civilians.

He additionally described surviving the October 17 assault on the al-Ahli hospital, which Hamas blames on Israel, however Western nations say was brought on by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

“Finally justice will meet up with these people, if not in 5 years, 10 years, once they’re 80 years outdated, each time the stability of energy on the earth permits for justice for Palestinians,” Abu Sitta mentioned.