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Humanity Shattered and Broken: Gaza Through the Eyes of a Medic

Warning: This article contains distressing content.

There is nothing on his face that could convey what he has witnessed.

Lifeless bodies are pulled from the rubble. Tents are filled with the dead, wrapped in white shrouds. Buildings are demolished by the devastating force of airstrikes. Mahmoud Badawi has seen humanity destroyed, burnt, and broken.

"There are many tough situations," he says. "As an ambulance driver, you get used to what's happening, whether it's severed limbs, heads, or bodies… we've become accustomed to it."

His ambulance races from one bloody scene to another. In a narrow alley in the Gaza Strip, he stops to pick up two children injured in an airstrike. A man approaches, holding a bundle. It's a boy who has been seriously wounded.

He turns to a friend helping the paramedics load the wounded and urges him to handle the boy with extra care.

"Nasser, he has an open head wound."

Yet Mahmoud maintains composure. It's not that he is unfazed by what he sees, but the urgency demands his focus on those who can be saved. As he speaks to a BBC journalist, the sound of a rocket explosion is audible.

"We don't really get a break from it all. The situation is very bad. Now we will try to locate the bombed area to go to the wounded and the dead."

When asked about the situation with medical supplies, Mahmoud responds sharply, "Everything is running out."

According to the Hamas-led Ministry of Health in Gaza, over the past two weeks, more than 6,000 Palestinians have been killed. Approximately 40% of them are reported to be children.

The UN has warned that nearly a third of hospitals and two-thirds of primary health care centers have been forced to close "due to damage from the fighting or fuel shortages." The UN states that its fuel reserves are running low and that "tough choices" will have to be made regarding which services will be prioritized in the coming days.

Israel has refused to allow fuel into Gaza, claiming that supplies could be seized by Hamas. It also alleges that the organization is hoarding fuel.

In Gaza, days and nights mercilessly blur together. The war is constant, and on this small strip of land (with Gaza's total area measuring just 141 square miles or 365 square kilometers), it is everywhere.

Israel has ordered nearly a million residents of the northern half of Gaza to evacuate to the south, claiming that this will enable its forces to target Hamas. But Israeli airstrikes on the southern part of Gaza, where thousands have fled, continue.

Should you run; where should you run to; where should you seek shelter if you do run—each day and night in Gaza is filled with desperate choices.

This also means that emergency service workers cannot return home to safety.

When he is on duty, Mahmoud worries about his wife and six children just as they worry about him. When the bombing is heavy, he tries to call every hour. But phone lines are strained.

"It's very hard to get in touch with the family. We have almost no services to be able to call and find out if they are okay."

Mahmoud has worked tirelessly to raise a family with a strong desire to serve society. He takes pride in his children. There's a daughter studying to be a doctor, inspired by her father's work and her own childhood experience of war in Gaza. There's also a son working as a nurse and another qualified as a teacher.

As night falls, bombings resume, and lulls become short-lived. Mahmoud takes a break, standing between his ambulance and a pile of rubble. In his left hand, he holds a stretcher, waiting for the next emergency. The adrenaline subsides. He stands still for a brief moment, looking into the distance. His eyes are filled with sorrow for all that he has seen.

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