For weeks, Mustafa Abutaha wandered the halls of one among Gaza’s few functioning hospitals and stuffed his days by volunteering to do no matter was wanted — sweeping flooring, baking bread, dressing injured sufferers, feeding dates or tomato sandwiches to those that couldn’t feed themselves. Something to keep away from desirous about his son, Muhammed.

Because the Israeli navy focused the southern metropolis of Khan Younis in early December and combating with Hamas intensified, his household’s dwelling was struck whereas he was visiting a neighbor, Mr. Abutaha mentioned. His brother was killed. Three of his 5 kids have been injured. And Muhammed, 18, was discovered immobile in a stairwell.

“If someone sends me his image, I simply shout at him and say: ‘Please don’t remind me of my son. He’s already useless. Please, I don’t wish to carry again reminiscences,’” Mr. Abutaha mentioned. “Oblivion, forgetfulness, is a blessing from God.”

Quickly after the strike, he mentioned, he and his household fled to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, on the time one of many final services within the Gaza Strip nonetheless providing medical care and shelter to the displaced. Now, its operations are in peril.

This week, Israeli forces ordered the evacuation of the hundreds of civilians sheltering at Nasser and, on Thursday, started a raid in opposition to what it says is Hamas exercise contained in the hospital. A whole lot of sufferers, workers members and displaced Palestinians had already fled, together with Mr. Abutaha, although many remained.

Starting in December, Mr. Abutaha, a professor of English, despatched dozens of voice and video messages to The New York Occasions offering an unusually direct window into the wrestle to outlive inside an embattled Gaza hospital.

“Our scenario is insufferable,” he mentioned in one of many messages. “We will’t endure anymore.”

Blow by blow, the battle in Gaza has dismantled Mr. Abutaha’s life, because it has for therefore many others within the territory of about 2.2 million Palestinians.

His college was shuttered by the combating and it’s unclear whether or not it’ll ever reopen. His spouse managed to take his surviving kids to Egypt for medical remedy, however it’s not clear whether or not they are going to totally recuperate, he mentioned. (His fifth and eldest youngster left the nation earlier than the battle). He doesn’t know when he’ll see them once more. He has tried to rejoin them, he says, however Israel and Egypt have made it extraordinarily tough to go away.

With nowhere to go after the strike on his dwelling, Mr. Abutaha, 47, volunteered on the hospital, the place he took benefit of the comparatively dependable web — a rarity in Gaza — to speak with The Occasions. He related reporters with hospital workers members and sufferers and shared movies, voice memos and texts exhibiting the grim situations.

Medical doctors combating scarce provides. Displaced folks sleeping in hallways. Starvation gnawing as meals grew scarce. Casualties pouring into the hospital wards.

The battle started after the Hamas-led Oct. 7 assault on Israel that, Israeli officers say, killed about 1,200 folks. Israel responded with heavy bombardment of Gaza and a floor invasion which have devastated the small coastal enclave, killing an estimated 28,000 folks, displacing a lot of the inhabitants and setting off a humanitarian disaster.

Israel has accused Hamas, which gained management of Gaza in 2007, of utilizing hospitals for its navy operations, turning them, the Israelis declare, into authentic navy targets. The Israelis have ordered evacuations from quite a lot of hospitals, and Israeli troopers raided a few of them.

Hamas and hospital directors have beforehand denied the Israeli claims. Categorized Israeli intelligence reviewed by The Times means that Hamas operated underneath a significant hospital, Al-Shifa, however it falls in need of proving Israel’s early competition that there was a command middle there.

In his many messages from Nasser Hospital, Mr. Abutaha condemned Israel for its assault on Gaza.

However in conversations with The Occasions in latest months, he additionally criticized Hamas, sentiments hardly ever expressed publicly in Gaza throughout the battle, partly for concern of retribution by the militant group. Through the 2014 Gaza battle, Mr. Abutaha wrote a handful of on-line posts that painted Hamas in a optimistic gentle, however now he recommended that the Oct. 7 assault had needlessly endangered Palestinians. And he mentioned he opposed violence, together with that assault.

“A lot of folks cursing Hamas, cursing the leaders,” he mentioned in a voice message, talking English. “Hamas began the battle,” however we’re “the victims of this battle.”

Mr. Abutaha’s video messages confirmed extra folks searching for shelter within the hospital every day, hanging laundry from the home windows, sleeping within the hallways and stringing up sheets for a modicum of privateness. Within the orthopedic ward, displaced Gazans struggled to search out area inside a fancy that was by no means meant to accommodate so many individuals.

With out sufficient to eat, Mr. Abutaha seen sooner or later that he might see his clavicles for the primary time in years.

“You see the bones?” he mentioned in a single video.

When he couldn’t discover espresso, he poured scorching water over burned toast or crushed date pits, simply to have some black liquid to drink.

When help convoys reached the world, folks lined up for no matter they might seize, mentioned Haneen Abu Tiba, 27, one of many folks sheltering on the hospital whom The Occasions related with by means of Mr. Abutaha.

Generally, chaos broke out and other people pushed and shoved, she mentioned, as Hamas’s safety forces did little to maintain order. She mentioned she had fled airstrikes in her neighborhood along with her mom and sisters.

In January, Mr. Abutaha and his cousin obtained an help bundle and shared a video of the field’s contents: two kilograms of dates, 10 cans of beans, two kilograms of sugar and 5 kilograms of rice.

It appeared like a bounty at a time when hunger is so widespread.

Mr. Abutaha recounted how he had saved for years to construct his four-story home in Khan Younis and had hosted Westerners who got here to Gaza on humanitarian missions.

Now, the home is a shell of rubble and twisted metallic, he mentioned.

On the day that modified the household’s life endlessly, Mr. Abutaha’s spouse, Reem, had left to run an errand proper earlier than their dwelling was struck, she mentioned in an interview. Within the chaos, it was not clear the place Muhammed’s physique had been taken.

Ms. Abutaha barely made it to the graveyard in time to search out neighbors burying him, she mentioned.

On the hospital, an in depth buddy of Mr. Abutaha’s, Dr. Ahmed al-Farra, who ran Nasser’s pediatric ward, handled these wounded within the strike.

“This was the worst day of my life,” Dr. al-Farra mentioned in an interview. “The E.R. was stuffed with blood and injured kids and injured sufferers, and there weren’t sufficient docs to assist them.”

Mr. Abutaha’s daughter, Leyan, 14, had a mind damage that left her in a coma for a month and a half, her mom mentioned. One other son, Abdul Aziz, 16, had a cranium fracture, a damaged jaw and a crushed foot. Yamen, 6, had a thigh wound and burns.

Each time Mr. Abutaha speaks together with his spouse in Egypt, she begs him to come back assist her care for his or her kids within the unfamiliar nation. He tells her he’s making an attempt.

Final month, fearing for his security because the Israeli navy approached the hospital, Mr. Abutaha fled with a handful of docs. He’s now residing in a tent in al-Mawasi, an space with little infrastructure that has turn out to be overcrowded with displaced Gazans.

He mentioned he has developed a foul cough, and with little water or cleaning soap for bathing, he has taken to swimming within the sea and rubbing his physique with sand to get clear.

Mr. Abutaha continues to be making an attempt to remain busy, he mentioned, however there’s not a lot to do, and so the reminiscences maintain coming again.

“I can’t neglect,” he mentioned.

He has deleted the pictures of his useless son from his telephone.

Video manufacturing by Axel Boada.


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