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“Red!” “Yellow!” “Green!”
The air at Nasser Hospital is pierced by the cries of medical workers getting their first look at patients coming in from a city under siege. Red is not good. It is for the most seriously wounded people, but even the other codes offer little comfort in a hospital stripped of the most basic necessities.
It is generally very difficult to learn much about the patients I photograph. In this case, the man with the medical forms on him was said to have been pulled from the rubble. What was his name? I do not know. Did he survive? I do not know that, either.
But he appeared to have two things possibly going in his favor: He was a Green. And he was given a space, if only on the floor. The hospital cannot afford to waste time on those who clearly won’t make it.
It is hard to convey the horror that is Nasser Hospital these days.
Everything is a blur. People running, people screaming. Doctors and nurses rushing from patient to patient. Family members desperately looking for the missing, hoping someone can stop and help them.
Every sense is assaulted.
The smell is very difficult. It is like burned skin, or perhaps charred tires mixed with the odor of blood and flesh. It’s a very strange and specific smell — and I fear it may never leave me.
Earlier in the war, the hospital was busy, but things appeared manageable. Then came a flood of refugees, as the Israel military, preparing a ground invasion, warned civilians in the north to evacuate.
The other day I found myself next to a doctor who was saying that before the war, the hospital used to cap daily admissions at 700. “Today, on a regular day without shelling, we accept more than 2,000 cases,” the doctor said.
Like many hospitals in Gaza, fuel shortages tied to the Israeli and Egyptian blockade have left Nasser struggling to keep the lights on and the equipment running. Critically needed food and medical supplies are said to be trickling into the territory, but when I ask the staff at Nasser about it, they tell me: “We haven’t received anything.”
And so children come in shivering with fever, and with no acetaminophen, little can be done for them. I often pass by the pediatric unit, and it is always full.
This is all I can tell you. This is what I have seen with my own eyes.