On April 15, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, injuring more than 150 Palestinians, including children. MSF trauma surgeon Carlo Brugiotti was part of the medical team that evaluated and stabilized the injured. Here, he reflects on what he saw that day.
It was 6:30 in the morning on April 15 when I heard my roommates Andrea and Otero talking outside my bedroom. It was clear from the urgency in their voices that something serious had happened. When I left, Andrea told me that the Palestinian Red Crescent had called and that we had to go to work immediately. Israeli forces had stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during morning prayers.
Andrea is an Italian emergency doctor and Otero is a Spanish intensivist and anesthesiologist. I am a traumatologist. Together we are part of the MSF trauma team based in Hebron, in the Palestinian Territories. That Friday, along with two other MSF doctors, we set out to help assess and stabilize people who had been injured.
Our team rushed to a trauma point near the hospital to treat triage patients, where seriously injured people were transported by ambulance from the mosque.
A few minutes later the first ambulance arrived. The patient had a large bleeding wound on his head where the Israeli police had beaten him. Then two more ambulances arrived. One of the patients was a girl who was shot in the back with a rubber bullet, blunt force trauma that could have fractured her ribs or other bones. We checked her lungs with an ultrasound and luckily they were fine. We moved on to another patient with a lower back injury. They had beaten him with a baton and he was in a lot of pain. He couldn’t move his legs. We suspected a spinal fracture. After stabilizing him, we decided to transfer him to the nearest hospital for an X-ray. We wonder how badly he must have been beaten.
Suddenly, the girl with the rubber bullet wound fell to the ground having lost consciousness. Her vital signs were normal, but she was shaking like a leaf. She was having an anxiety attack. Otero gave her medicine to calm her down. I thought about how horrible her experience must have been and how long the memories of the day’s violence would stay with her.
We saw another patient who suffered burns to the face from a stun grenade. This weapon is designed to produce a blind flash of light, but when fired too close it can cause a terrible burn. Two more children arrived, one with a large cut on his head. Andrea took care of him, while Otero and I examined the other boy with a wound very close to his right eye. He couldn’t remember how he got injured. We suspect a fracture of the cheekbone and take him to the hospital.
At approximately 10 a.m. we received an update from the Red Crescent: the total number of injured had reached 150. At least five were in critical condition and had been taken to an operating room to repair the extensive damage to their faces after receiving bullets. rubber. . These bullets, which usually have a metal core, can disable, disfigure and even kill.
The patients kept coming in like waves. We try to stabilize them as quickly as possible to empty the beds for the new arrivals. Sometimes it seemed that the ambulances had stopped arriving, and suddenly two or three arrived at once.
By 11:30 am, the flow of patients had finally slowed. All the wounded had been treated and it was time to take a break. Andrea, Otero and I decided to go for coffee near the Mount of Olives field hospital. On the way, an incredible image appeared in front of our eyes – a wonderful view of Jerusalem. We stood there and wondered how such a magnificent place could present the scenes of violence that we had witnessed a few hours before.
No matter how many trauma patients you see or what war zones you work in, every time you treat a person who has been violently harmed by another human being, it is impossible not to feel a deep pain in your soul. The Roman proverb of Plautus, two thousand years ago, was right: “Homo homini lupus” – man is a wolf to man.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.