A Gaza hospital director says foreign activists, including a US citizen, are working as human shields to try to protect patients in the facility from Israeli strikes.
Israeli airstrikes hit El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City five times Friday, said executive director Basman Alashi. The hospital normally houses 30 patients in varying stages of occupational and physical therapy, Alashi said. During the current operation, he trained the families of 16 patients to help provide care at home. For those too incapacitated to move, he resorted to another tactic: asking foreign activists to act as a human shield.
“After the fifth hit we decided to go on air and declare our case,” Alashi said by telephone. “All hospitals in Gaza are extremely busy and there is no other space for our patients. We decided not to take them out. They need the care 24 hours. We can’t leave the building and leave the patients. They are helpless.”
Alashi said he held a press conference Friday evening at Gaza’s Shifa hospital and asked for help. Eight foreigners agreed to stay in shifts in the hospital, including American Joe Catron, a pro-Palestinian activist from Hopewell, Virginia. Catron, 33, said in a telephone interview he hoped the presence of activists from the US, England, Spain, Sweden and Venezuela could bring enough attention to the hospital to deter the Israeli army from striking it.