June 2021 Newsletter 

Scientists4Palestine Updates 

 
Recap: Science Under Bombing
Hearing the Voices of our Colleagues in Gaza
by Rania Faidi
On May 16th 2021, Scientists4Palestine (S4P) hosted a conversation with our Colleagues in Gaza to discuss the increasingly violent Israeli aggression on Gaza. The panel consisted of Dr. Marwan AbuSada, the Chief of Surgery at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Bisan Ouda, a University student in Gaza and a youth activist and leader of social initiatives, and Ihab Suliman, a lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza.

We opened with a moment of silence, remembering Dr. Ayman Abo Elouf (pulmonologist)  and Dr. Moeen Alalool (neurologist), both Gazan specialists who were tragically killed in a deadly Israeli airstrike on May 15th. We followed by the reading out of the names and ages of the 51 Palestinian children who had been killed in the airstrikes as of May 16th, read by Ubai Aboudi, Executive Director of the Bisan Centre for Research and Development.

Dr. AbuSada proceeded to open with an urgent call for the need of basic medical supplies and equipment, with the increasing patient mortality, in Gaza. He recounted how ICUs in Gaza were reaching maximum capacity, and yet were still heroically treating severe - life-changing- injuries in children. Dr. AbuSada concluded by stressing how donations can and do make a huge difference in saving lives in Gaza, and verified a list of organizations that the public can donate to: 
1. Medical Aid Pal (MAP) UK
2. World Health Organization (WHO)
3. Human Aid UK 
4. Al-Rahmah Worldwide Aid & Development 
5. Palestine Children's Relief Fund (thepcrf)
6. Qatari Red Crescent (QRCS)
7. MSF- Belgium (Doctors without Borders)
8. MSF-France (Doctors without Borders)
9. Palestinian American Medical Association (PAMA)
10. MedGlobal Org

Next, Bisan Ouda, University student and youth activist in Gaza, spoke about how schools and institutes of education were being targeted by the Israeli Occupation as an attempt to create an "uneducated generation" in Gaza. Bisan recounted her own experiences as a student in Gaza and the hardships she endures everyday. Mr. Ihab Suliman was unable to join the discussion via zoom due to technical difficulties. Questions and comments were taken from the audience; Malak Zakout identified herself as a lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza and recounted how she checks in with her students via a Facebook group: once used to share coursework, is now instead used to check whether her students have survived the airstrikes or not. 

Dr. AbuSada called on the International community to end the Israeli aggression on Gaza, and to rehabilitate Gaza. 

 
Missed the webinar? A recording is provided here: http://www.scientists4palestine.com/webinars/science-under-bombing/
1-on-1 with Dr. Khamis Elessi
by David Kattenburg, Marta Campigotto

Eleven days of relentless bombardments, destruction and rubble in the streets: how is Gaza coping with the aftermath of the Israeli attack? And what is the situation of the healthcare system at the time when healthcare is so desperately needed? Scientists4Palestine’s David Kattenburg interviewed Dr. Khamis Elessi, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Rehabilitation at the Faculty of Medicine in the Islamic University of Gaza, on his Green Planet Monitor Podcast. Dr. Elessi was taking a break from his work to take care of his family and to relieve some of the stress caused by the latest bombardments. 

When asked about the impact of the recent Israeli raids on Gaza's existing healthcare infrastructure,  Dr. Elessi eloquently summed it up as "too much". First, he stressed that the challenges Gaza’s hospitals have been facing hardly started with the latest attack. The siege on the Gaza strip for the last 15 years has crippled Gaza's healthcare system. A year of global pandemic also posed a severe challenge to the healthcare infrastructure: 105,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,000 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic. This has been exacerbated even further by the 1900+ injuries and 260+ deaths in the recent Israeli airstrikes, creating an overwhelming situation for medical staff who were treating COVID-19 patients and patients injured from the airstrikes. 

International donors have, so far, supported hospitals with basic equipment necessary for COVID-19 units. However, rapid tests and a robust vaccine rollout remain lacking. In fact, Dr. Elessi estimates that only 1 in 7 people have received at least one COVID19 vaccine dose, partly due to vaccine hesitancy, but mainly because of lack of supply. Israel, in response to international pressure, recently donated a few thousand doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Gaza strip. But measured against a population of 2.2 million, Elessi asserts this is not enough to alleviate the need. 

Despite the matter-of-fact tone of Dr. Elessi, the picture that emerges from his conversation with David Kattenburg is heartbreaking. And yet, hope finds a way in. "The people of Gaza are like the phoenix", Dr. Elessi says, "we suffer, we shed tears, but we have our stories, our spirit". He acknowledges that the pain is strong, but so is the determination and will of Palestinians. 

A recording of Part 1 & 2 of the interview can be found here (via Green Planet Monitor): https://soundcloud.com/greenplanetmonitor

Life Under Israeli Occupation:
Palestinian Students Testimonials
Over the past few weeks, Scientists4Palestine collected stories and testimonials from Palestinian Students highlighting their lives as academics, students, and doctors under the Israeli Occupation. The following are selected quotes from each contributing testimonial on what life and education under the Israeli Occupation is like.  You can continue to advocate for the rights of Palestinians and their dreams by reading these stories and sharing them widely in your networks.
 
Suhail Matar, PhD student at  New York University:
"This is what your fancy collaborators with an Israeli university looks like, under the surface. This is the grim reality of Israeli academia. Yes, it has top-notch education and great researchers. But it is severely lacking in basic humanity towards even us, Palestinians." read more

Ibrahim Abuseifan, Medical student at Al Azhar University (Gaza):
"I didn’t build a skyscraper -not yet at least- however, I was able to make of myself a person who loves Gaza and knows how to dream big. I challenge myself to always stay humble, and when I feel that I’m somehow acting arrogantly or cowardly, I slap myself hard to stay sane. Nevertheless, I keep my head up high and stand strong, arrogant and stubborn in the face of the occupation. I do not want to die as a number. Please spread my story." read more

Majd Abualrub, Intern Doctor at Jenin Hospital and Lecturer at Clinikeys:
"The Israeli occupation tried for 70 years to limit our education and research and prevent us from building our country. However, Palestinians are still alive. And we will send this message to every corner on Earth until we achieve freedom. We will prove to the whole world the type of scientists and doctors we are, those who could help humanity!" read more

Israa Atta Abu Elaish, Architecture student at University of Palestine (Gaza):
"I want so much to help rebuild my city and revive Palestinian culture, but the threat of losing my life, without warning makes me feel that I will never see these dreams come to reality. It feels as if I live in a city where dreams get destroyed." read more

Noor Zaki Al-kilani, Architecture MSc student at University of Palestine (Gaza):
"These attacks felt different and more aggressive than those in the past, targeting our roads and infrastructure for communication, and electricity. This semester is my last, and while I should be focusing on my final master’s research, due to be delivered in August, the death of so many people and children have had such a large impact on me, that it is hard to work." read more

Salah Ibrahim Eleyan, Physics graduate, Islamic University (Gaza): 
"I wondered if I would be next. Would all of my dreams, and the future I had been planning since childhood suddenly vanish? I wondered, if I didn’t survive, would others remember that I too had loved, lived, and dreamed?" read more

Islam I. Masood, Medical student at Al Azhar University (Gaza):
"She would have been part of our “target population” and I would have probably given her one of our questionnaires. She was just a normal dental student that should have been living a normal college life. She should have been focused on doing her clinical clerkship, conducting research, and living peacefully." read more
Saher A. Alreqeb, Mechatronics Engineering Graduate, Al Azhar University (Gaza):
" I just finished my engineering degree with an excellent GPA of 91.5% and was able to help and participate in making many community projects related to field, funded by local and national institutions. I was also chosen to work as a trainee in some local factories and companies! Although the Israeli rockets and bombs threaten our lives, families, and dreams here in Gaza, I am still determined to learn more and make more projects, as long as I am alive!" read more

Deema Sameer Muhanna, Medical student at Al Azhar University (Gaza):
"The war erases the identity of all of its victims but I am writing this to tell the whole world that I am not just a number, and if I die I will be a beautiful martyr and I will smile at its injustice without fear or surrender even after I am buried. I am a girl with dreams which cannot be erased even if I die. These dreams will clearly never be understood by the Zionists, nor by anyone who does support this war and genocide." read more

Sara Taha Shaker Albhaisi, Science teacher at Save The Children Foundation Palestine:
"The destruction is stronger than any other war. I had to stop my work temporally and this ongoing occupation causes me a lot of nightmares. But I haven't given up on doing all I want to do, and in particular doing research and continuing my PhD." read more

Tareq Z. AbdalJawwad, Medical student (Gaza):
"On the 13th of May, our house came under direct attack, and we had no other choice but to risk our lives, travelling by car to another city.We wanted to feel safer, but soon after arriving, we had a near death experience, as a residential building turned to into rubble right in front of our car. This was in the middle of one of the main streets in the Gaza strip."  read more

Noorhan Ameen Baker, Medical student at Al Azhar University (Gaza): 
"Currently, I feel that my life is at threat and could end at any time. I wonder if I will still be alive tomorrow, or even one minute from now. I wonder if I will live to be able to fulfill all my dreams that I aspire to, or if my story will end here? We have the right to live a safe, normal, and quiet life just like any other human in the world. Remember us well, and our dreams. I am a human being. I AM NOT A NUMBER!" read more

Nagham Ghassan Khader, Medical student at Al Azhar University (Gaza):
"I am not sure if I will survive. But if I survive I will keep going, luckily our people don't know the taste of defeat. I will go for as long as I can to do research with my team. I chose medicine since I want to become a surgeon and relieve the pain of my people. I am just in my first year but can’t you see that we have dreams here in Gaza? Remember our dreams, our voices, we are not a number."  read more
Remebering Shaima Abo Eloof
Senior Dental Student at Al-Azhar Univeristy in Gaza
by Mario Martone
Remembering Shaima Abo Eloof: (Video

Shaima Abo Eloof was an extremely talented third year Dental student at Al Azhar University in Gaza.  Shaima was engaged and was in the middle of planning her wedding shortly after the end of Ramadan this year.  On May 16th 2021, an Israeli airstrike killed Shaima and all of her family. In this short video, put together by our colleague Ahmed Albhaisi, who is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Orthodontic Surgery in Egypt, Shaima is remembered by her colleagues  as  an "extremely talented human", and as a "dreamer", "hardworking", "outstanding", "determined" woman. 

We mourn the loss of Shaima's life and her would-be bright future under a merciless aggressive Israeli Occupation. We mourn the loss of all talented women and men like her in Gaza and across Palestine.

After the ceasefire, we know that people across the world will count the number of victims, but as Shaima's colleagues remind us, Palestinian victims are not figures, they are people robbed of a life of hopes, dreams and aspirations.  We hope you can share this video in remembrance of Shaima's resilient soul.

"Occupation is not just an occupation of land, but also an occupation of mind, soul and dreams."


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