A PHYSIOTHERAPIST from Fishponds fears for the colleagues she worked with at Gaza’s biggest hospital.
Celia Stubbs worked with Palestinian staff who specialise in paediatric physiotherapy at Gaza City’s Shifa hospital, to improve treatment for children.
The hospital is now reportedly home to 40,000 people seeking shelter from the war between Israel and Hamas.
Israel Defence Forces accused Hamas, which killed 1,400 people in attacks on settlements and a music festival in southern Israel on October 7, of having bases in tunnels under the hospital.
The IDF has told civilians to evacuate Gaza City and said on October 27 that hospitals would “lose their protection from attack” if they were used for “terror purposes”.
Celia stayed in touch with physios and other medical staff at the hospital after her visit. Although internet and phone services are frequently lost, she has heard from the Palestinian Physiotherapy Association that three physios and two students in the group she worked with have been killed in Israeli attacks, which Gaza’s health ministry said had killed more than 10,000 people by November 6.
At least 15 people were killed when an ambulance, which the IDF said was carrying Hamas fighters, was bombed outside the hospital on November 3.
Three days later, TV channel Al Jazeera reported that the hospital’s solar panels had been destroyed in an air attack.
The World Health Organisation recorded attacks on five separate hospitals on November 5, causing at least eight deaths.
‘They are never going to get over the trauma’
Celia said the situation at Shifa hospital was “awful”.
She said: “The last time I spoke to colleagues there, they had run out of anaesthetics, antiseptic and had no water.
“There are bodies everywhere – hundreds of children are dying each day.
“It’s just horrific – even if they survive, they are never going to get over the trauma.
“They have been told they have to evacuate but they can’t – how are they going to evacuate all of the patients?”
Celia, who works in private practice in Bristol and lectures at Gloucestershire University, previously volunteered for humanitarian work in Haiti, India and Africa.
Through an international physiotherapists’ network she became aware of Medical Aid for Palestinians, a charity working with Gaza health professionals.
Celia spent a week at Shifa last year as part of a training scheme, sharing practice and assisting physios unable to travel outside Gaza because of border restrictions.
Even then, the hospital only had four hours’ electricity a day and some drugs were not allowed across the border.
Afterwards the physios shared knowledge via online support sessions and WhatsApp.
Celia said: “The improvements to children’s quality of life had been massive. They had such good projects, treating premature babies and children in intensive care.
“That’s been totally destroyed now.
“It’s just heartbreaking, because they are nothing to do with Hamas, they’re just ordinary people with young children and families – caring, professional compassionate people, trying to live a life.
“They feel they’re not being treated like humans.”
Donations to MAP can be made online at map.org.uk/donate.
Top picture: Celia Stubs (top left) and Palestinian physiotherapists assessing a young girl with cerebral palsy at Shifa hospital last year.