California doctor and other American medics trapped in Gaza call on US government to help bring them home


By Jeremy Diamond and Muhammad Darwish | CNN

Jerusalem — Dr. Ahlia Kattan should already be back home in California with her three young children.

Instead, she’s spending her days and nights at Gaza’s European Hospital on the outskirts of Rafah.

Kattan, an anesthesiologist and specialist in critical care, is one of at least 22 American physicians trapped in Gaza after an Israeli military offensive in Rafah last week shuttered the city’s critical border crossing to Egypt. Rafah had, until then, served as the only entry and exit point for foreign aid workers into and out of Gaza.

“My kids have already been texting me today saying, you said Tuesday that you were going to be home,” Kattan told CNN. “The WHO (World Health Organization) is trying to negotiate a safe exit for us. And it’s not happening.”

The crossing has been closed since the Israeli military seized it early last week. Israeli and Egyptian officials have so far failed to reach an agreement on reopening it, instead trading blame for its continued closure. Meanwhile, dozens of foreign doctors are stuck in Gaza, while others are unable to get in as humanitarian conditions worsen inside the besieged enclave.

FAJR Scientific, the United States-based nonprofit organization that brought Kattan and 16 other physicians to Gaza, is now calling on the US government to help coordinate the team’s safe exit from Gaza. They had been due to leave on Monday.

“I am asking the US government to step in and coordinate with the WHO to protect US citizens trapped in a war zone and bring them home ASAP,” said Mosab Nasser, the organization’s chief executive, who is also in Gaza.

At least one member of the team requires evacuation on medical grounds, he added. The 17 medics include 12 American citizens, three UK citizens, one Omani and one Egyptian.

Kattan and her husband, who is also an anesthesiologist, arrived in Gaza more than two weeks ago, driven by the helplessness they felt watching the suffering in Gaza on television and knowing they could help.

“We knew that anesthesiologists were needed for the civilians here, the women and the children. And we knew we had something we could offer,” said Kattan.

‘This is what clean looks like in Gaza’

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The FAJR Scientific team recorded video diaries of their experiences and the conditions they …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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