Tag Archives: Dr Halfdan Knudsen

A doctor’s blog from Khan Younis: ‘It’s grim, but it’s real’

28 Oct

profile Dr Halfan Knusdsen MD

Posted by Dr Halfdan Knudsen on his blog ‘Gazan Medicine – working & living in Gaza’ – 25 October 2014

Bad Days

This post turned out different from what I intended. I was going to tell you a light-hearted intro about where I live now and what I am working on. Instead what you are about to read forced itself to the forefront. It’s grim, but it’s real. Today is a better day, but no day is really good.

Yesterday was a bad day. Woke up with this strange feeling of being locked in and isolated from everyone and everything. This place does that to you sometimes. Going for a drive down south [from Gaza City] to Khan Younis just reinforced that sense – I have never before travelled anywhere, where the sense of foreboding and imminent catastrophe were this strong. The coastal stretch is empty, abandoned buildings and bombed out shells everywhere, the stench of sewage so thick you could cut it with a knife. In places the sea is dark brown instead of the clear green-blue of the Mediterranean other places. I wish I could convey that feeling of Ragnarök having come and gone, the few people you do see look completely dejected, dressed in rags, dirty, eyes empty and hungry.

And Khan Younis itself is a world apart from Gaza City. Rough, poor, hard-edged, threatening. We stopped for lunch at a place – they served us, but no one really spoke to us, and our driver was outside the café the whole time, keeping watch. No one has the energy to smile at us and say hello like they do in GC, the looks you get tell a story of hatred, abandonment, hopelessness and rage, borne out of desperation.

There is nothing here for anyone – by 2016 there will be no water in Gaza fit for irrigation, let alone drinking. The UN has effectively legalised and tightened the blockade through its deal with Israel over transfer of rebuilding materials. People are being evicted from the UNRWA schools to live in the streets, while rebuilding is happening at a snail’s pace and the rains and cold of winter is coming. No one is being paid, half the aid money for Gaza is going to the West Bank and the other half is being controlled by Israel. And still the Palestinians are being blamed.

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