Jun 24, 2005 6:00 pm


Gaza doctor fumes over bomb plot at Soroka



As a Palestinian doctor who has worked at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for eight years, I was outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt by Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss.

On Monday, she was was caught at the Erez crossing from the Gaza Strip wearing explosives stitched to her underwear and admitted that her goal was to kill dozens of people at the hospital, including as many children as possible.

I conduct research at the hospital's Genetic Institute, and Soroka has become my home away from home. I have built warm and professional relations with my colleagues in the obstetrics and gynecology department and other units.

I make a point, whenever I'm at the hospital, of visiting Palestinian patients. I also schedule appointments for other Gaza residents, and even bring medication from Soroka to needy patients in the Strip.

I have nothing but praise for the doctors, nurses and other medical staff at Soroka Hospital. They show compassion, sympathy and kindness. I was therefore extremely shocked and upset to hear that Wafa Biss, from the Jabalya refugee camp, was wired with explosives to blow herself up at Soroka, a place where she had been treated with kindness and mercy.

On the very day that she planned to detonate her bomb, two Palestinians in critical condition were waiting in Gaza to be taken for urgent treatment at Soroka.

Wafa was sent to kill the very people in Israel who are healing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. What if Israeli hospitals now decide to bar Palestinians seeking treatment? How would those who sent Biss feel if their own relatives, in need of medical care in Israel, are refused treatment?

As for Biss herself, she should have been a messenger for peace among her people, and should have been bringing flowers and appreciation to the Soroka doctors for healing her burns. Instead she targeted the very people who treated her with such compassion.

Israeli hospitals extend humanitarian treatment to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. These efforts continued when all other cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis came to a halt during the most recent intifada.

To plan an operation of this kind against a hospital is an act of evil. Children, women, patients, doctors and nurses were the target. Is this a reward for kindness? Is this an advertisement for Islam, a religion which respects and sanctifies human life? This is aggression and a violation of humanity.

What are we going to say if Israel now clamps down on Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment inside Israel? All of us know that we are suffering from restrictions and acts of collective punishment imposed by the Israelis. We now risk imposing additional suffering on Palestinians in need of medical care.

Soroka is a hospital that has opened its doors to treat Palestinians without discrimination, offering the best care available. I want to tell my friends and colleagues at Soroka that all the Gaza residents I have spoken to have expressed their condemnation of this this evil and brainless act. At a time when we badly need to build bridges of trust and tolerance, Soroka is the only door left open when other hospitals are closed to Gaza residents.

We should all denounce any attempts to attack hospitals and harm their patients. The Biss family members have, themselves, issued a statement condemning the use of their daughter.

I hope that despite this incident Soroka Hospital will continue to be an oasis of peace and coexistence. That is the correct message to defeat the enemies of peace.

The writer is an obstetrician and gynecologist from the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and works at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

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