December 3, 2023


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Coalition of Canadian doctors urge for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

A coalition of Canadian medical professionals is urging Prime Minister Trudeau to do more to address the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip amid the health care challenges the area is experiencing.

As the Israeli bombardment continues with no signs of slowing down, the coalition of 2,500 doctors has drafted a list of demands to the Canadian government, saying humanity needs to be restored.

During the press conference, the group urged Trudeau to demand an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and asked Egyptian President El-Sisi to open the Rafah border and allow for the immediate evacuation of patients who need medical attention, and necessities, like fuel and medical supplies to reach those in need.

They also ask for the enforcement of international humanitarian laws that guarantee protection to all doctors and physicians so they can fulfill their duty to provide life-saving medical care.

“Physicians and medical staff have refused to leave the hospitals and have refused to abandon patients, preferring to be killed with their patients under their care,” said Dr. Alia Khan, Clinical Professor of Medicine.

The Gaza Health Ministry has estimated at least 9,061 Palestinians have been killed in the war, mostly women and minors, and more than 32,000 people have been wounded.

Over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during Hamas’ initial attack.

Residents of Gaza face an increasingly dire situation amid a territory-wide blackout. The World Health Organization said the lack of fuel for hospitals’ generators puts at risk 1,000 patients on kidney dialysis, 130 premature babies in incubators, as well as cancer patients and patients on ventilators.

“The situation in Gaza is unprecedented. We have been communicating with the doctors on the ground and not only have some hospitals been directly or indirectly bombarded, but the cut down of electricity, water and fuel has caused many hospitals to shut down,” said Dr. Alkassem. “We are here to ask for a ceasefire and to allow the medical supplies and the fuel and electricity to come back to these hospitals.”

The World Health Organization says hospitals in Gaza are either overwhelmed or non-functional. A Canadian doctor currently in the region adds that hospitals “don’t have electricity to operate.”

As patients continue to pile up, doctors are forced to make difficult decisions – surgeries are being performed in hallways and supplies are dwindling.

“As a trauma surgeon, I feel the deep pain of needing to perform surgeries including amputation of limbs of children, without anesthesia. This is happening in Gaza today while we’re all watching,” said Dr. Anas Al-Kassem, a trauma surgeon in Canada.

It’s been reported that doctors in Gaza are working around the clock to save lives, even though, they themselves have suffered their own losses.

It’s a pain felt a world away for these physicians, including Dr. Ben Thompson, who visited Gaza many times before and worked in the emergency room.

“I’ve held a dead burnt baby in my hands while that child’s father yelled at me to help. That was horrible. What’s happening in Gaza now is worse,” said Dr. Thompson.

The collective says the demands will be sent to all MPs, and they’re also requesting a meeting with Justin Trudeau. 

At least 435 Palestinians with foreign passports have left Gaza through the Rafah crossing into Egypt, according to a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority. Seventy-six Palestinian patients, along with their companions, were also evacuated.

Egypt has said it will not accept an influx of Palestinian refugees, fearing Israel will not allow them to return to Gaza after the war.

With files from The Associated Press