The Declaration of Geneva encompasses these following points at the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:
- I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
- I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
- I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
- The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
- I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
- I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
- My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;
- I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
- I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
- I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
- I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.
This declaration was adopted by the World Medical Association soon after WW2 and medical ethics was born after the war crimes that were perpetrated by the Nazis, as the world recognised the need to restate and reiterate guidelines for human rights. The war crimes committed were horrendous and sickening – and as I’ve grown up learning about what happened in school history lessons, it was something that everyone had identified to be unacceptable and ‘never again’ is what would be taught. However, from what it seems – those are nothing but empty words. And how unfortunate it is to know that the present is just as cruel as if not more than the past. In fact, it was not just medical ethics that was born in 1948 but the malicious displacement of the native Palestinian people from their homeland. Again, how unfortunate. Sometimes I wonder what the true purpose of international peace conventions and the like are as they seem like nothing but a rug to sweep things under. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to know that there are doctors who are true to these words but distressing to know what they have to witness:
The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying… All sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.
The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12 to 24‑hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment in Shifa for the last four months). They care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. Humans! Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” [sic!].
My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless. My closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” [steadfastness] gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.
Ashy grey faces – Oh no! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding. We still have lakes of blood on the floor in the emergency room, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away… to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More than 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hours. Enough for a large well-trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, operating-room tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, enormous, resolute.
And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flow, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!
And then the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again. Just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats down on the shores, the roaring F-16, the sickening drones (Arabic zennanis, the “hummers”), and the Apaches. So much made by and paid for by the US.
Mr Obama – do you have a heart? I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. I am convinced, 100 per cent, it would change history. Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people. But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another dahyia – onslaught on Gaza. The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.
Please. Do what you can. This cannot continue.
In Gaza, more than 1400 have been killed. Close to 7000 have been injured. Including newborns. Israel – continuing the Holocaust since 1948. Shameful.