Middle East

British surgeon says Gaza ‘beyond worst thing’ he’s seen, as Jordan’s king warns Israel creating a ‘generation of orphans’

By Martin Goillandeau, Isa Soares, Catherine Nicholls, Caroline Faraj and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

CNN  — 

A British surgeon who led an emergency medical team in central Gaza says the situation at Al-Aqsa hospital has been “beyond any doubt the worst thing” he’s seen in his career, as Jordan’s monarch warned Israel’s bombardment was creating an “entire generation of orphans.”

“There’s been multiple traumatic amputations of children … horrific burns, the likes of which I’ve never seen before,” Dr. Nick Maynard told CNN’s Isa Soares on Monday after his team found themselves with no choice but to withdraw from the hospital, following increased Israeli military activity.

He said that often “there is no pain relief to give to these patients at all,” underscoring the dire humanitarian situation and lack of medical supplies in the Palestinian enclave following more than three months of Israeli bombardment.

“I think it’s fair to say I’ve never seen anything like this. And I never expect that in my life I would see such an appalling situation,” said Maynard, who was speaking from the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Monday after leaving Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has repeatedly said it is not targeting civilians. The IDF has also said that Hamas uses civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, as shields for its attacks on Israel, and that attacking those targets are essential as it works to eliminate Hamas from the enclave.

Israel has also said some hospitals are being used as command centers but has provided limited evidence to support that claim.

The IDF’s operations are contentious, with humanitarian organizations warning that a growing number of medical facilities across Gaza are rendered unable to provide basic services.

“I’ve been going to Gaza for nearly 15 years now, I have many friends who work in hospitals there. There are many examples of hospitals being attacked. In the last two days since I left Al-Aqsa hospital, there have been attacks on the hospital,” Maynard told CNN.

The British surgeon had been in Gaza for two weeks, an experience he described as “frightening,” saying his team pulled out as the conflict came closer.

“There was an attack on the intensive care unit,” he said. “We were due to leave it about that time anyways but the following morning, the whole area was taken out of the de-confliction (zone), and we were told by the Israeli Defense Forces that we would not be able to go.”

CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment but is yet to hear back.

The doctor said his organization, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), and Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), were both operating at the hospital but “both sets of foreign doctors had to leave.”

MAP and the emergency medical team of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) announced their withdrawal from the Al-Aqsa Hospital on Sunday citing increasing Israeli military activity in the area.

As Maynard and his team left Gaza for their safety, he fears that “there are not enough staff to run the hospital in any form at all now.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned Sunday that Al-Aqsa hospital was the “most important hospital remaining” in central Gaza. He demanded that medical staff and their families be protected, adding the facility “must remain functional.”

‘An entire generation of orphans’

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza began after Hamas launched its brutal October 7 assault in which some 1,200 people, mostly civilians were killed and more than 200 people taken hostage.

Since then, about one out of every 100 people in Gaza has been killed, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which generates its data from hospitals in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

At least 23,084 Palestinians have been killed and 58,926 others injured in Gaza since October 7, the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said on Monday. The Ministry of Health in Ramallah said that more than 5,300 of the dead are women and more than 9,000 were children.

CNN is not able to independently verify numbers released by the two ministries.

A separate statistic released by the international organization Save the Children said more than 10 children on average have lost one or both of their legs every day in Gaza since October.

Wounded people, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for treatment following the Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on January 4, 2024.

Israel’s military campaign has sparked an international outcry with a growing number of nations backing calls for a ceasefire.

The United States has been pressuring Israeli officials in the last several weeks to do more to protect civilians and implement more strategic strikes but has so far resisted calls for a ceasefire.

As deaths continue to climb, the conflict in Gaza has created “an entire generation of orphans,” King Abdullah II of Jordan said in a speech on Monday.

“More children have died in Gaza than in all other conflicts around the world this past year,” Abdullah said according to the speech which was carried on state media. “Of those who have survived, many have lost one or both parents — an entire generation of orphans.”

Abdullah’s made his remarks during a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda’s capital, according to Jordan’s Petra news agency.

“How can indiscriminate aggression and shelling bring peace? How can they guarantee security, when they build on hatred?” Abdullah asked.

“Without a just peace, on the basis of the two-state solution, the world will continue to pay a heavy price for failing to resolve this conflict, and we will never know true peace and stability in the Middle East,” he warned.

The speech in Rwanda came after Abdullah of Jordan met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman on Sunday, where the two “agreed to continue close coordination for sustained humanitarian assistance” in Gaza, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Sunday.

Abdullah also warned Blinken of the “catastrophic consequences of the continuing war in Gaza,” according to a palace statement released after their meeting.

CNN’s Ivana Kottasová, Kareem Khadder and Richard Allen Greene contributed reporting.

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