Rambam Hospital — a new community hospital in Nahariya, Lebanon: The first battle between Israel and Lebanese militants
At Rambam Hospital in Haifa, the underground facilities sit mostly empty, but ready. Many parking spots have hospital beds already, other sections have numbers to signify a patient area with hookups, waiting for the beds that are currently in use upstairs to be rolled down. On a recent visit, hospital leaders were running a drill to help nurses and doctors get used to working in the facility.
There are familiar hospital scenes: a father caressing the feet of his newborn, family members crowded around the bed of an ailing loved one, and a nurse drawing blood.
The community hospital in Nahariya is just 6 miles from the border with Lebanon — where tensions and fighting between Israel and Lebanese militants are intensifying.
The director of the hospital says that they are preparing themselves to care for their patients even under fire. He is wearing a protective vest.
It took a few hours to move the first patients underground, after over 1,400 people were killed when Hamas-backed extremists crossed into southern Israel.
In response, Israel’s military has launched near-continuous airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, killing over 10,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, and displacing nearly 1.5 million people, according to United Nations figures.
The war has also ignited what experts are so far calling a “limited spillover” of conflict between Israeli forces and militants in neighboring Lebanon.
The Haifa Hospital as a Base for the Emergency Medical Care System in Israel’s 2006 War with Lebanon: A State of the Art
“I’m not familiar with another facility like this in the whole world,” says Dr. Netanel Horowitz, who is part of the team setting up the garage-turned-hospital in Haifa. “If we need tomorrow to go down, it’s ready.”
Galilee’s wartime protections were used in Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. During that conflict, a missile from Lebanon hit the fourth floor of the hospital. No one was injured in the attack because the medical care had already been underground.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, has said he’s ready to escalate the war further at any moment, depending on the course of Israel’s offensive in Gaza and its behavior toward Lebanon. “All scenarios are open on our Lebanese southern front,” he said on Friday in his first speech since the conflict began.
It’s important for our parents and most vulnerable babies that the unit be safe, says Dr. Vered Fleisher Sheffer, who runs it. When NPR visited late last month, the babies being treated for their early delivery were just as smooth as if there wasn’t a war.
It’s a stark difference from what’s happening with the health care system in the Gaza Strip, which was already struggling before Israel launched its latest military response to the Hamas attacks. Eighteen hospitals and most of the primary care centers have stopped functioning due to attacks or lack of fuel since Oct. 7, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
The opening to the trauma center and emergency room is guarded by steel doors. There’s a shower ready in case Lebanon uses chemical weapons.
For the last few weeks, the hospital has been receiving Israeli soldiers wounded from fighting in Gaza, as well as more than 200 northern residents who have been injured in rocket attacks from Lebanon.
A few weeks ago, Sirhan was working when a call came in that an ambulance was on its way in with four people injured in a rocket attack near the border. Some of the patients, it turned out, were his relatives.
“We have drills to receive such trauma cases, but no one prepared me for receiving family members,” he says. “I went from being a doctor to being a family member and it was a bit confusing. It took me several moments to cool down my nerves and start after receiving them.”
The practice exercise was the first time that many staff had worked in the underground garage, since only a group of people had worked there previously.
“I don’t want to say that it’s not frightening or terrifying, but it’s a long day and I had one long day in Israel,” says an internal medicine nurse who is part of the training exercise.
She said she looked67531 with her fellow nurses while visiting the facility. She admits that it’s hard to imagine how the jobs would look down here. “Where is everything?” Where will people go? What is the plan?”
In the course of the drill, staff members begin to practice how to identify and treat pretend-patients, which are usually members of the Israeli military. The acoustics make it difficult to listen to the patients in the operating room and the staff needs to practice rolling the beds in the right direction.
But Maister says she’s confident they’ll figure out what to do in time. “We know how to handle most situations. I think it’s one of the strengths of nurses.”
Rambam’s Garage in the Gaza Strip: A Model for the Environmental Damage caused by Israel’s Ground Attack and the Emergency Medical Response to Gaza
There is a garage at Rambam where the children’s Dialysis is located. The hum of a nurse, children playing video games, and a father listening to a pop song are all found in that section of parking spots.
The 4-year-old is going to get a kidneys transplant. “It makes me feel a lot better,” he says sitting next to his son. It feels very safe here.
A nurse makes Hadar laugh with a flower in her pen on his leg. Romano says his only critique of getting treatment underground is that Hadar misses the colorful kid-friendly decor of the upstairs unit.
The Qatari capital, Doha, is now the focal point of both the hostage negotiations and separate talks on getting aid into Gaza. Over the last week, Hamas has added a new condition for releasing civilian hostages — the delivery of fuel to collapsing hospitals across the Gaza Strip.
But once Israel’s ground assault on Gaza got underway on Oct. 27, the negotiations came to an abrupt halt, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. The talks resumed days later and are still underway.
According to Israel, Hamas uses fuel for its rocket attacks and that it has a large amount of fuel meant for civilians. But aid organizations have said that fuel is one of the biggest needs in Gaza, to keep everything from hospitals to bakeries running.
Satellite imagery is used to determine the source of damage caused by rocket attacks and small-arms fire in the area, but it’s getting harder to do.
According to data from the CUNY Graduate Center and Oregon State University, 27% to 35% of buildings in the north have been damaged since the start of the war. Throughout the Gaza Strip, they estimate that between 13% and 18% of all structures have been destroyed or damaged, a range of 38,000 to 51,500 buildings.
“It’s increasing quite a bit,” said Van Den Hoek, who has been studying this imagery since the war began. “There’s broad damage in areas where people live — cities, refugee camps.”
The Israeli Military is Searching for Elements in the West of the Gaza Strip. The Report of Israeli Airborne Explosions near Bureij Refugee Camp
The narrow section of land in the Gaza Strip is comprised of Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. Its footprint is roughly equal to that of the city of Philadelphia, but with a half million more people, many packed into concrete high-rises in tight cities up and down the coast.
To comply with the orders of the Israeli military, the residents of northern Gaza were ordered to leave the area to the south of the Wadi Gaza. The UN said it would be hard for so many people in Gaza to move without serious consequences.
The Health Ministry says bombs have killed at least 45 people at Al-Maghazi refugee camp. The Israeli military said Sunday that it was looking into whether or not it was active in the area at that time. Nearby, The Associated Press reports that Israeli airstrikes struck near Bureij refugee camp, killing at least 13.