Politics Aside: Docs Treat Gaza, Israeli Patients

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ASHKELON, Israel -- Hamas's deadly rocket attacks on Israel are threatening some of the same hospitals where Palestinian doctors are being trained and Palestinian patients are being treated.

Dr. Ron Lobel has worked at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital for 34 years. But as deputy director of the hospital in the Israeli coastal city, he still cannot get used to the sound of the siren warning of incoming rockets, which sends everyone scrambling for shelter.

"We've been living with this situation of rockets exploding above the hospital and some of them were exploding within the premises of the hospital," he told CBN News.

Barzilai lives just seven miles from Gaza and within easy reach of Hamas' rockets.

"It means that our staff driving back and forth and coming for their shifts are under threat," he explained.

Barzilai is also one of the main hospitals treating injured Israeli soldiers coming off the battlefield. CBN News was there when medics brought in a soldier severely injured during a firefight with Hamas.

Dr. Lobel gave CBN News a tour of the hospital, including the underground bunker turned neo-natal ward for premature infants.

He explained that under normal conditions, when there's no war going on, the room being used for preemies would be sealed off. There would be no use for it. But today it's a hive of activity because it houses some of the most vulnerable patients here in the city.

"This is the most sheltered area in the hospital, the real sheltered area in the hospital, and these are the babies that might suffer most from moving urgently from one place to another," Lobel said.

Barzilai also treats Palestinian patients from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Before the recent conflict erupted, patients from Gaza routinely visited the hospital. But Hamas has stopped that for now.

Lobel has spent many years in Gaza training Palestinian doctors and nurses. Many of them have worked at Barzilai alongside their Israeli counterparts.

"You can see lying side-by-side a patient from Gaza and a patient from Sderot or Ashkelon injured by a Palestinian rocket and they lay side-by-side and they are being treated by Israeli doctors and by Palestinian trainees," he continued. "We always say that we have a box at the entrance where we leave our politics outside."

Lobel said the hospital is a symbol of what he hopes will someday bring lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

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