Hospital Poem in a time of War

Hospital Poem in a time of War


Al-Shifa Hospital, where the Israeli soldiers said “come out with your hands on your head” to the amputees and the drunken wheelchairs, drunk on grief and terror. Gaza hospitals: all bombed, besieged, broken, burnt, bulldozed, destroyed…


The world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). “

Al Jazeera, 13 November, 2023


Despite repeated calls by rights groups to protect Al Shifa, Israeli troops stormed the hospital on Wednesday (15 November 2023).”


“…I have to repeat the prayer

that we will all go back

to earth one day soon to become earth,

that our tears will run to the sea

a last time and open it, and our fires

light the way back home for someone.”

(Philip Levine – BURNED, from ‘What Work Is’)



Hospital Poem

…in a time of War

Tuesday 14 November 2023


It was my time for hospital

an unholy tuesday in my sad organs

naked and numbed and horizontal

on the polished trolley, counting

the hours and minutes the length of

my burning veins.


O, but here where the soft silent voices

breathe both wing and footstep

to a beating heart, their whispering

both nurse and undertaker to tired bones

(in their greeting and farewell)

for all will be left with no family to visit

in a place of childhood ghosts

and forgotten suffering remembered.


What a shock, then, among

the singsong muted voices

the wives’ happy faces

the sick man telling his story

even this smiling sister in her enormous dreams

and then the bloody news


breaks all the windows,

runs amok along the shining corridors where

heart attack and car collisions

like all catastrophes,



And all for what, my Jewish brothers,

my Palestinian family, for what this night

will fall in fire and fury?


For what the people falling like leaves in Gaza

both doctors and nurses too, the babies dying in their incubators

the wounded, the sick, the desperate, the dying?


For what the lies, the blasphemy, the excuses

(“Israel’s Chief military spokesman Daniel Hagari

a former Naval Commander tells us…

‘this was the house of a Hamas Commander wedged between

a school and the hospital and beneath it this tunnel’ …blah…blah…blah…”


al-Shifa Hospital

(where the Israeli soldiers said

come out with your hands on your head”

to the amputees and the drunken wheelchairs,

drunk on grief and terror)


al-Ahli Arab Hospital, (Gaza City) 500 dead in one attack

and laterIsraeli tanks are besieging the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza during what they describe as a “violent attack…

al-Quds Hospital (Gaza City)  closed under ongoing Israeli bombardment,

al-Nasr Children’s Hospital,

al-Rantisi Specialised Hospital for Children “went out of service Thursday after

running out of fuel for its generators, leaving 38 Palestinian children who are suffering from kidney failure in grave danger…”

Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza,

Al-Wafa Hospital, Gaza’s only facility dedicated to caring for older people

and those with long-term disabilities “and a refuge for those with nowhere to go…Israeli forces targeted Al-Wafa on Friday, killing the hospital director

and injuring many others…

The Indonesian Hospital (located in the Beit Lahiya neighbourhood and where Gaza’s ministry of health said “…it believed 12 people had been killed in shelling overnight on Monday and that it feared a repeat of what happened at al-Shifa… and where IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari also said

Hamas systematically built the Indonesian Hospital to disguise its underground terror infrastructure…”

the al-Awda Hospital (that ran out of fuel),

the Turkish-Palestine Friendship Hospital, (stopped operating on October 30 after air strikes and as it ran out of fuel and medicines. Israel has denied attacking the hospital, Gaza’s only cancer treatment facility…”)

the Swedish clinic in al Shati camp, west of Gaza City, (“further air strikes reportedly hit and destroyed”)

al-Mahdi Hospital in Gaza City (“Another strike overnight hit…reportedly killing two doctors and injuring others”)

the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, (where Tareq Al-Daghma, pediatric ICU doctor at the Hospital saidWe are not all like Hamas. We are other humans. God help us…”)

al-Amal Hospital also in Khan Younis

the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis

Al-Helal Emirati Hospital and the Mohammed Yousef El-Najar Hospital  

in Rafah

all bombed, besieged, broken, burnt, bulldozed, destroyed…


(“Where can the sick and injured go?” Al Jazzeera asks

Where can the sick and injured go?” )


No way to imagine.

No way to reach out and touch

the child’s terror

embrace the immeasurable loss and grief.

No way…


All is left is these strangled voices with their head in a noose.

These bitter old men in their bunkers

seeking birth in their brokenness, their craving for

calamity, for war, for revenge…


and here, in this last safe hospital bed

one old man’s prayer:

may these beloved children be born to live in beauty,

may they not be destroyed nor burnt by these cruel bombs

not buried in the catastrophe of these cities!


O, brothers, doctors, and friends

why can we not diagnose these monsters’ savagery?

Cage their vicious disease now running free like an epidemic?

Quarantine their hatred?

Cure their cruelty..?


Why, with each of our own uncountable ghosts of war and loss

why, sisters and surgeons, have we not found freedom

from this disease

the one that tears the child from its mother,

the heart from its humanity,

the holocaust from our history?


Tell me, Mr Netanyahu,

tell me, all you loudmouth politicians,

Tell me Mr Blinken & Biden,

tell me loud-mouthed Ursula von der Leyen,

all you soldiers and generals

tell me




séamas carraher

St. Michael’s Hospital

14 November, 2023


Update (22 November)

Israeli forces entered al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, on Wednesday 15 November


“The WHO says it has recorded 335 attacks on health complexes in the occupied Palestinian territory since October 7, the beginning of the Gaza war, including 164 attacks in the Gaza Strip and 171 attacks in the West Bank.


These attacks have resulted in forced mass evacuations from hospitals, and multiple fatalities and casualties among patients, their companions, and displaced people taking refuge there, according to the WHO.


At least 13,000 Palestinians – about 5,600 of them children and 3,500 women – have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its air and ground assault on Gaza after the October 7 attacks by Hamas targeting Israel, according to the enclave’s health ministry.” (Al Jazeera)


Medical Personnel

As of November 16, “…more than 200 health care workers …have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Another 130 reportedly have been wounded.” (NPR)


November 21, “Three doctors have been killed in the latest Israeli strike on Al Awda Hospital, one of the last remaining functional hospitals in Northern Gaza.


Two of the three deceased doctors, Dr Mahmoud Abu Nujaila and Dr Ahmad Al Sahar, were from French medical charity Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).


Both the MSF doctors were in the facility when it was hit on the third and the fourth floors. Other medical staff, including those from MSF have also been injured in the strike.” (Firstpost)


TIMES OF GAZA @Timesofgaza (November 15)

“Israel has killed 200 health workers, destroyed 55 ambulances and led 25 hospitals out of service since the beginning of the aggression on Gaza. Furthermore, 700 Palestinians were murdered in different atrocities targeting the hospitals of the Strip.”



Emergency ward of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike on October 11, 2023.

Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons



Ursula von der Leyen @vonderleyen

Gaza officials say Israeli air strikes hit hospitals (11 November)

Patients are dying’: What we know about Gaza hospitals under Israeli siege



Al Shifa Hospital – Gaza – 12 Nov 2023

Palestinian People are not Barbarians – A Message for Peace

The (Occupied) Palestine State addresses Israel’s Lies at United Nations

#Palestine denounces #US Arms for #Israeli Aggression

Israel’s “Solution” to Gaza?

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