Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi has been operating day and night at Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza, “every day since the beginning of this s—,” he said on Tuesday, referring to the ongoing conflict with neighboring Israel following Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7.
He immediately apologized for using the curse word during a WhatsApp conversation with NBC News.
Since the cease-fire ended Friday, Israel’s military has pushed deeper into the area, encircling the city of Khan Younis — where his hospital is located — with an intense ground and air assault, ordering civilians to evacuate the area.
Nasser Medical Complex is one of the few hospitals still operating in southern Gaza. A team from the World Health Organization recently visited it and described the situation there as “catastrophic.” The building and the hospital grounds are “grossly overcrowded with patients and displaced people seeking shelter,” Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean said during a briefing on Monday.
The emergency department is overflowing and there is severe shortage of health workers, fuel, water, medicines and food, Al-Mandhari said. “Many patients are being treated on the floor.”
For the people in southern Gaza being ordered to evacuate, “there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.
As head of Nasser’s plastic surgery and burn unit in Khan Younis, Moghrabi said that he has worked nonstop treating blast injuries.
“I’m frustrated. I’m tired,” he said. “My God, I’m really exhausted.”
He recently operated on a teenage girl whose arm had been badly burned in an explosion. A colleague snapped a picture of Moghrabi’s working conditions: The only light he could use to see what he was doing was from a cellphone held close by.
He posted the photo on Instagram. “Even in my dreams, I have never seen anything worse than this nightmare,” he wrote.
On Monday, WHO posted video from inside Moghrabi’s hospital on X, formerly Twitter, and said that Nasser Medical Complex is operating at three times beyond its capacity. When beds are not available, patients must be cared for on the floor, WHO said.
“We have seen what happened in northern Gaza,” the WHO wrote in a statement issued Monday. “This cannot be the blueprint for the south. Gaza cannot afford to lose another hospital as health needs continue to soar.” In two months, the group reported, “the number of functioning hospitals has dropped from 36 to 18” in Gaza.
Moghrabi said that while medical supplies have trickled in, “there is a scarcity of water and food.” He has a single water bottle that he holds dear — he has written his name on it to reduce the chance of someone taking it.
He said his wife and six children, ages 3 through 17, remain in Gaza and are psychologically traumatized. His children, Moghrabi said, scream regularly.
Moghrabi said he and his family “want to flee, but don’t know how.”
“The troops are near to us. Many medical personnel ran away,” he said. “Only fear is here.”