Middle East

Israeli offensive in Rafah would be devastating, says US nurse who cared for Palestinians in southern Gaza

From CNN’s Sana Noor Haq

An American nurse who treated Palestinians in the coastal town of Al-Mawasi warned a looming Israeli ground assault on the nearby southern Gaza city of Rafah would be “the ultimate demise.”

In February, Amy Leah Potter set up an improvised primary health care clinic in the coastal town with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She told CNN that children displaced in tents sustained burns while crowding around fires for warmth in cold winter conditions. Others were treated for upper respiratory infections because they were inhaling smoke.

“We’d have burns from children who aren’t used to living with fire around them,” said Potter. “We would see a lot of skin infections because hygiene is nonexistent through no fault of the population.”

Some background: Israel’s military offensive in Gaza has forcibly displaced about 1.7 million Palestinians, according to the UN. Many of those forced to flee are crammed in sprawling tent camps that cannot offer basic sanitation – leading to the spread of disease. Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7 have killed at least 32,00 Palestinians, according to the health ministry in the strip.

Potter recounted working under the constant whine of Israeli drones and ringing blasts. “There was not a day that went by that I didn’t hear an explosion,” she said. “The Palestinian people, their resilience is unbelievable.”

“The only thing that’s going to save these people is a ceasefire,” said the nurse. “They are the definition of innocent civilians. And unfortunately, they’re often referred to as collateral damage. That’s tragic.”

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