And so, in the wake of a ceasefire that went into effect at 2am on Sunday morning, Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA), in cooperation with the Department of Health, opened a medical center at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel to serve Gaza Strip citizens.
That same day, an opening ceremony for the center was held on the Israeli side of the Erez Crossing in the presence of Minister of Social Services Yitzchak Herzog, Minister of Health Yaacov Ben Izri, and Eli Bin CEO of Magen David Adom.
At the opening, Bin told reporters: “The logistics in establishing a facility like this is very complicated especially with such short notice.” In fact, the government decision to open the center came only on Thursday, after which MDA was selected to implement and operate the project.
“We started building within 24 hours,” says Dr. Zvi Feigenberg, in charge of MDA’s medical section, sounding remarkably calm in the face of the impossible deadline. “We opened on Sunday and hope that by Monday we’ll be operating at full capacity.”
The main focus is to treat the wounded
The great unknown is who will be coming in for treatment, once the crossing opens. “We already resuscitated one man today, he collapsed at the gate, and aided a woman who was crossing into Israel for diabetes treatment. But the main focus of the center is to deal with the wounded,” says Feigenberg.
“The center was set up to answer the needs of the residents of Gaza,” Bin tells ISRAEL21c. “They’re ordinary citizens, they aren’t responsible for the conflict, and MDA as a humanitarian, non-political organization and a member of the International Red Cross (IRC) should provide an answer.”
The new medical center has the capacity to handle 30 patients per hour and will be staffed by paramedics and doctors with a range of specialties: ear, nose and throat; emergency medicine; family medicine; gynecology; pediatrics; ophthalmology; orthopedics; surgery; trauma and more, as well as an intensive care ambulance and four basic life support (BLS) ambulances, in order to transport patients to and from hospitals in Israel.
A call for volunteers
The center will treat injured and sick civilians from Gaza, operating according to a framework determined by MDA and the IRC. MDA has called on its doctors, nurses, and medical staff to volunteer for initial intake at the center, after which, based on their medical status, patients will be transferred to hospitals in Gaza or, in certain cases, in Israel. MDA stated that hospitals across Israel are standing by to receive the patients from Gaza.
Feigenberg is still recruiting volunteer staff and told ISRAEL21c that he welcomes requests from Israeli and international organizations interested in lending a hand to the initiative.
Once the IDF opens the Erez Crossing, MDA expects that word about the clinic will spread; it plans to be prepared to receive as many patients as necessary.
Video by Molly Livingstone.