Interview with Dr. Majed Jaber at the European Gaza Hospital: “‘Medical Aid?’ We Haven’t Received Any… Children are Dying”

July 1, 2024


The following is the transcript of an interview and The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show correspondent Alan Goodman did on June 22 with Dr. Majed Jaber, a Palestinian physician working at the European Gaza Hospital in southern Gaza. The interview took place as Dr. Jaber was working a 24-hour shift at the hospital under unimaginably difficult conditions, including that during the interview, Israeli rockets landing nearby shook the hospital. Watch the interview here.

Dr. Majed Jaber at European Gaza Hospital. Interviewed by Alan Goodman.

Alan Goodman: I’m speaking with Dr. Majed Jaber at the European Gaza Hospital in Gaza. For our listeners, Dr. Jaber is joining us under incredibly difficult circumstances, both personally and in the hospital and so I so appreciate what you’re doing to somehow carve out time and energy to fill our viewers in on the situation. Tell us what the situation is like now in the European Gaza Hospital and what you are learning about and what you are seeing outside the hospital.

Dr. Majed Jaber: Absolutely. First of all, thank you for interviewing me. And trying to help us and me to shed light on the situation here in Gaza and especially in the hospital where I mainly worked during the war. So, when it comes to the health sector in Gaza it is very corrupt, it is very unorganized and chaotic. And so, we lack most of the basic equipment that other doctors abroad take for granted. Let’s say monitors, X-ray machines and blood pressure monitors. Even sometimes we don’t have a glaucoma test, just measuring glucose, or measuring heat. And there are even other equipment that are handheld, like an ultrasound that sometimes is not functioning and otoscope to check your ears to see if there is any inflammation, if there is any rupture from an air strike, because a lot of people come in with tinnitus. [We need] to see those [who] just come in and say we need to see if there is damage, and we just can’t do it. And we sometimes lack what we call a laryngoscope.1 We have a lot of rusty equipment and the needle holders, the forceps and the tweezers are in very bad and rough condition.

Dr. Majed Jaber (in blue vest) treating patients at European Gaza Hospital, June, 2024.    Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Majed Jaber

And what is going on is that day by day the Israeli government has been very strict when it comes to, let’s say, allowing medical equipment coming into Gaza. They barely allow any let’s say reasonable amount of disposable items. We have ran out of urine bags for weeks in Gaza and had to use plastic bottles, something like that. Something like this. [Holds up a plastic bottle.] I ask the patient to drink and then go urinate in that and then use the same normal saline bag, and just swap out and push it into the foley catheter2 to measure how much urine that patient is producing.

And besides equipment, also we lack medication and a lot of people with heart failure, diabetes, with hypertension, patients with let’s say ischemic heart disease, we sometimes run out of aspirin and diuretics3 these patients use and some of them die. We have a lot of incidences where a diabetic patient goes into diabetic ketoacidosis or HHS4 and they just die.

They present to us due to poor transport. Nowadays, it’s very risky for the patient to go to the hospital. It just takes like a half hour or an hour and this is the golden hour to save the patient. And they come and present very late and we lose the patient most of the time.

And so another aspect of what we are struggling with is the staff itself. We barely have a let’s say, we don’t have many doctors and nurses in our hospital. And sometimes when there is let’s say an emergency, an air strike, a massacre, let’s say 20 people are killed and 100 wounded. I can’t really tend to all these patients. It becomes very challenging because I could have saved that patient’s life. But I just can’t tend to everybody and those who could have been saved died because of lack of care pretty much and it is a dilemma it’s very frustrating and we can’t do much about it.

Dr. Majed Jabar with an elderly patient at European Gaza Hospital, June, 2024    Courtesty of Dr. Majed Jabar

Alan Goodman: I’d like to return to the situation with your lack of supplies and personnel, but before I do, could you talk about who is coming to the hospital. We know that there is widespread famine, we know that there is widespread disease. We know that there is widespread injury. But can you just give us a sense of who these people who are coming to you in such desperate need are?

Dr. Majed Jaber: Absolutely. We have a lot of cases of malnutrition, especially very old people with very heartbreaking stories. You see this mother who lost all her children, a father who lost his wife, and those who take care of them, and these people get in depression. They are not very compliant with their medication; they do not eat well. And they present to us because someone noticed something is wrong and they are very malnourished.

Of course, let’s not mention the organized famine, let’s say starvation of our people. Let’s say the amount of food that is allowed into Gaza is specifically calculated and this is not a special case during this genocide. If you look before October 7, you can see the guidelines of the Israelis. They calculate how many calories per capita in Gaza. And this is very scary if you think about it. And now it has become way more severe. And so, you see a lot of babies underweight. It’s really challenging because trying to feed these babies is also a problem, like medically speaking, you can’t just feed the baby all of a sudden. They can get refeeding syndrome,5 they can get into a lot of problems.

Also, a lot of the children cannot tolerate formula milk, or their mother’s milk also. They need this special formula, and this formula is usually very expensive. You can’t really have it here in Gaza nowadays and you just basically see the child dying in front of your eyes. You can’t barely do anything about it. We see a lot of cases, to give a better picture, a lot of these kids and children used to go to Jordan, go to Egypt to receive treatment for their chronic illnesses because our health sector is very lacking and now, once the war started, the genocide started, they are not allowed to travel. And we had a huge number of these children dying just because we can’t do anything about it.

And of course, during this summer especially, there has been an outbreak of a lot of infectious organisms, mainly hepatitis A. We have a lot of cases of gastroenteritis. Let’s say, we suspect that there are a lot of cases of cholera here which is very scary. A patient or two died in the middle area of Gaza. And even like today I’m just suffering from, I don’t know, probably acute gastroenteritis, probably could be hepatitis A. And this is also another topic. Even doctors like me who are very meticulous about their hygiene, about their food habits will get infected eventually because we lack proper hygienic tools.

Alan Goodman: I’d like to ask you something specific about this. The government of Israel and media here in the United States are reporting that Israel has instituted an 11-hour pause in bombing and we are seeing maps and news coverage here that show a route from the Kerem Abu Salem, or Kerem Shalom in Hebrew, crossing directly to the European Hospital. What is the actual situation in terms of that pause and reports that more aid is going through? What is the actual situation there?

Dr. Majed Jaber: Well, so I personally do not believe or rely on Israeli information when it comes to a safe area or not. Really, it is very heartbreaking but this is the truth. I personally lost my house when it was in the “safe zone.” I got injured twice and you just can’t really develop any feeling of believing what they are saying because it’s just never the case. I personally was shocked by the “humanitarian pause” or whatever they call it because in real life drones were always there—tanks and missiles, artillery shells keep going. So, it’s not that safe per se. And the medical aid, we haven’t received any, barely anything.

Of course, there are some foreign doctors from medical delegations that come, who pass through the Karem Abu Salem crossing. But we’re talking about three or five doctors only, but they can only do so much because they are allowed to carry two suitcases and one back bag, most of which are not medical equipment. They are not allowed to carry a repeating item. For example, if I’m going to bring like two stethoscopes, one of them is not going to pass. Special medications also is a big problem because they do not allow any medications to come through, even like simple medications, it’s just “nope.”

And so, these doctors I talked to, those who came here recently are very frustrated because they brought a lot of expensive items, they brought a lot of medications and they even contacted me to ask for feedback—OK, we need this, we need that. And they barely came in with anything. So, whatever they say is not really the case and the European Hospital now is the central hospital in the south of Gaza. It’s very close to the eastern borders. Let’s say if the Israeli forces wanted to, let’s say, encircle or invade this hospital, it would only take like 10 minutes. And so, it is very risky for most doctors to come here, and this is one of the reasons why we are so understaffed because they are afraid of their lives6 but at the same time, this eastern area, this eastern front has a lot of people living here still, a lot of refugees and displaced people. And so it is also an obligation for people like us to stay here and try to provide as much health care as humanly possible even though we are not able to reach a standard of care fit for humans. It’s very frustrating, really. Yeah.

Alan Goodman: Well, I have tremendous respect and I’m sure everyone watching this does, for the courage of what you and others are doing, the sacrifice you are making. Just to clarify for our viewers, you yourself are quite ill and are still doing this. And I think that impresses, speaking for myself, that impresses on us in this country that is more responsible than any entity in the world, this country is enabling Israel to do all the things you are describing. and we have a tremendous responsibility here, those of us who have heard what you have to say, to do everything in our power to stop that genocide immediately and I really hope that what people have gotten from what they’ve heard from you, inspires and compels them to act. So, thank you so much for the sacrifice you’re making and the particular sacrifice you made to do this interview. Is there anything you wanted to say before we go?

Dr. Majed Jaber: Absolutely, I just want to encourage American people especially those who come out and protest, at the universities, and in the streets, in their homes. And those who post online, those who come outside and try to leave a fingerprint when the government is very oppressive against them. They—whenever a person opposes the government propaganda when it comes to supporting Israel, when they try to resist and try to change the status quo when it comes to universities blindly supporting Israel—the government, the investors don’t care about them.

They are risking a lot, they’re risking their education, they’re risking their jobs and they are fighting for us. And I just want to say thank you so much for that and I am truly grateful. I know sometimes it seems as if there is no impact, but there is. We are not going to see a quick change but if people are brave enough now to fight for us, if people are willing to speak up for our cause then there is hope for change. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s the same case for us now. And with the help from people like you, those who protest for us I hope that we can see brighter days for us in our lifetime. Thank you so much Alan.

Alan Goodman: Thank you Dr. Jaber and we’ll stay in touch.



1.  A thin tube with a light, lens and a video camera that helps medical providers look closely at a patients larynx (voice box). [back]

2.  Used to extract urine from patients who cannot empty their bladders. [back]

3.  Diuretics are a type of medicine that (according to the Cleveland Clinic) “help your kidneys put extra salt and water into your urine or pee. This is how diuretics clear extra fluid out and bring down your blood pressure. Diuretics also help when you have too much fluid collecting because of heart failure or other medical problems.” [back]

4.  A very dangerous complication of untreated diabetes. [back]

5.  This is a dangerous condition that can be triggered when an infant who has gone without sufficient nutrition for an extended period is suddenly provided with food.   [back]

6.  Israel has detained at least 100 medical personnel during raids on hospitals in Gaza since October 7, and at least one died while being held in a notoriously brutal Israeli detention center, something that a researcher with Human Rights Watch declared was “not an isolated incident.” See A Gaza Doctor Has Died in Israeli Custody, Palestinian Groups Say: Israel has not offered an explanation for the death of Dr. Adnan Ahmad Albursh, chief of orthopedics at Al-Shifa hospital, four months after he was first detained (New York Times, May 5, 2024).  [back]