When Dan Schwarzfuchs, head of emergency at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, southern Israel, heard two consecutive warning sirens early Saturday morning, he prepared to respond. rushed à the hospital located in à about forty kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
“We very quickly understood that it was war,” he said in an interview with AFP.
“Very quickly, the entire hospital staff was here, more than 1,000 doctors, all the nurses, everyone who needed to be there was present (…) and even those who didn't need to be there, nurses on maternity leave, doctors who came from everywhere.”
The Islamist movement Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, launched a deadly offensive against Israel on Saturday morning, in the middle of Shabbat and on last day of Sukkot.
Several hundred of its armed men infiltrated localities in southern Israel, under cover of a barrage of several thousand rockets, and massacred more than a thousand Israelis, most of them civilians, according to reports. Israeli authorities.
According to the latest report from the Israeli Ministry of Health published on Wednesday, Hamas attacks and rocket fire have left more than 3,200 injured, evacuated to Israeli hospitals since Saturday, including 870 to Soroka hospital, the largest in the south of the country.
– Covered in blood –
“As early as 8 a.m., the first injured began to arrive at the hospital,” relates Dan Schwarzfuchs, 60, also deputy director of the establishment.
“And from that moment on we treated casualties in the trauma unit at a crazy pace, the likes of which we could never have imagined would happen or that we might have been able to follow him.”
Bodies gathered at Kibbutz Beeri attacked by Hamas, near the border with Gaza, October 11, 2023 © AFP – JACK GUEZ
The number of wounded treated in trauma in the first 24 hours of the war – 120 – was higher than the number of injured treated on average in a “normal month”, explained the doctor, who has not left the hospital since Saturday.
“The number of wounded is astronomical. During the 2014 Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, 40 wounded was a very difficult day,” he said by way of comparison.
Saturday, “We finished treating a patient, we transferred him to the operating room or to intensive care and immediately another injured person took his place,” explains Dan Schwarzfuchs.
“The floor of the entire room “The trauma unit was covered in blood, we kept cleaning it.”
The nature of the injuries was also unusual. “Most of the injured had been shot, which required a lot of blood transfusions.
– “Total shock” –
Outside the trauma unit in the department emergencies, arrived some young survivors of the hell of Tribe of Nova, the open-air party organized during the night from Friday to Saturday on the edge of the Gaza Strip and which turned into a nightmare on Saturday at dawn when infiltrated Hamas gunmen began to massacre its participants.
An Israeli soldier at the site of an attack on the Supernova music festival by Palestinian militants, near Kibbutz Reim, on October 10, 2023 in southern Israel © AFP – JACK GUEZ < p>“The young people who arrived from the party had very serious post-traumatic stress disorders, they were in a state of total shock after having witnessed this indescribable massacre,” explains Dan Schwarzfuchs.
The staff of the The establishment also had to respond to the requests of the numerous families who came to try to find their missing loved ones.
“We tried to help them as much as we could but a large number of them returned home shot, without having found anyone,” he said.
Also a doctor from Kibbutz Aloumim on the edge of the Gaza Strip, whose members managed to repel the infiltration of Hamas gunmen on Saturday, Dan Schwarzfuchs, saw some of his friends arrive in his unit.
Dan Schwarzfuchs, head of emergency at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, southern Israel, during an interview, October 11, 2023 © AFP – Yuri CORTEZ
“It’s difficult to treat people you know well. But it’s somewhat normal here, we’re a small country, everyone knows everyone,” says Dan Schwarzfuchs.
An officer in the army before becoming a doctor and a reservist as deputy brigade commander, he says he is prepared for difficult days.
“It is certain that there will still be wounded but we We're all ready.”
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