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Three Florida physicians share their experience volunteering at a hospital in Gaza for two weeks

On Saturday, three Florida physicians spoke at Voices from the Frontline, an event hosted by the organization Alachua County Healthcare Workers for Gaza.

Dr. Bashar Alzghoul, Dr. Waleed Sayedahmad and Nurse Rana Mahmoud shared their experiences from volunteering for two weeks at the European Hospital in Gaza.

The physicians went to Gaza with nine others through the support of the Palestinian American Medical Association and Jordan American Physicians Association.

They brought 180 suitcases filled with medical supplies on the trip due to the lack of resources in Gaza.

Mahmoud shared that the physicians witnessed five miles of aid trucks unable to cross the border of Gaza, and felt it justified the amount of luggage she chose to bring.

“The reason why I decided to take those 30 bags is because I know that that is a guaranteed aid that they're going to receive,” Mahmoud said.

Despite previously working under a crisis situation after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Dr. Sayedahmad says he has never seen injuries and misery like he witnessed in Gaza.

“Gaza has no comparison, does not compare to anything I have seen throughout my almost 22 years of clinical practice,” Sayedahmad said.

Dr. Alzghoul said Gaza is suffering from a healthcare system collapse, where there are not enough resources or healthcare workers to treat the number of casualties that people face each day. Before the war, Rafah city had a population under 200,000 people.

“Well, when we went there, there were around a million and a half displaced refugees with only one or two hospitals serving them,” Alzghoul said.

Mahmoud said the European Hospital had 200 beds, but there are over 15,000 refugees living in the hospital.

The physicians saw a lack of infection control due to the hospital being overcrowded as well as the lack of resources.

Dr. Alzghoul says the physicians treated more children than they expected to.

“Out of these 30 beds that were dedicated to ICU, at any single point, 15 or 16 of them were actually children. I never imagined myself intubating a 3 year old, just a little bit younger than my son,” Alzghoul said.

Mahmoud spoke with many children in Gaza and learned their stories. She believes it is not just the call of medical providers but parents as well to advocate for these children.

“These children's life matters. It really does matter, and they're just not a number,” Mahmoud said.

Tess Tumarkin, a nurse who is a part of Alachua County Healthcare for Gaza, said the organization has been asking the Alachua County Commission to pass a ceasefire resolution since the start of January.

“We wrote a letter to the county commission and had within, I think, a single day, like 80 people had signed onto it. And now we're at over 200 healthcare workers in the county asking for a ceasefire resolution,” Tumarkin said.

The physicians believe that a ceasefire is the only solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

They encouraged readers to write letters to their representatives and donate to reputable organizations to continue aiding Gaza.

Maria is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing