July 23, 2014 12:02 PM EDT Paramedics are often among those first to a horrific scene. But in the latest flare-up between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, the AFP reports, they are also coming under fire or witnessing the deaths of children and colleagues.
“The ambulance worker is the one who arrives first so he sees with his own eyes what has happened, what the injuries look like, what the situation is, what the truth is,” Adel al-Azbut, 30, a paramedic, told AFP.
The International Committee of the Red Cross on Monday
condemned the shelling of the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir El Balah that left at least five people dead and added to a growing fear that few safe havens are left in the enclave.
Paramedics had to
bury a colleague who was killed this week when his ambulance was hit by an Israeli rocket. “The situation is very hard. We’re in a war that is affecting everyone—the citizens, the paramedics themselves,” said Jihad Selim, a paramedic shift supervisor. “They don’t go home. They’re only able to check on their families by phone—it’s tense.”
At least 632 Palestinians had been
killed as of Wednesday, a figure that UNICEF reported includes at least 121 children under the age of 18. Almost 30 Israelis have died in the offensive, nearly all of them soldiers. Israel's Ground Invasion of Gaza Continues A Palestinian Christian man from Gaza tries to push the coffin of Jalila Ayad in her grave during her funeral on the small and overcrowded cemetery of the St. Porfirius church in Gaza City, July 27, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA Palestinian men gather things they found in the rubble of destroyed buildings on July 27, 2014 in the Shejaiya residential district of Gaza City as families returned to find their homes ground into rubble by relentless Israeli tank fire and air strikes. Marco Longari—AFP/Getty Images Palestinians recover the body of a man killed when his home was hit the previous night by Israeli fire in the northern district of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip during an humanitarian truce, on July 26, 2014. Marco Longari—AFP/Getty Images A Palestinian man walks past destroyed houses in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, July 26 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA Palestinian women react amid the destruction in the northern district of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip during an humanitarian truce on July 26, 2014. Marco Longari—AFP/Getty Images A general view of destroyed buildings after Israeli attacks in a part of the Shuja'iyya neighborhood in east Gaza City, July 26, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA Palestinian girls peers from inside a UN school in Jabalia, north Gaza Strip, on July 25, 2014, where they found shelter after escaping from their home. Marco Longari—AFP/Getty Images Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over the Gaza Strip, July 25, 2014. Majdi Fathi—ZumaPress Israeli APCs drive near the Israeli border with Gaza as they come out of the Gaza Strip July 25, 2014. Nir Elias—Reuters Mortar cases are piled at a military staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014. Nir Elias—Reuters A Palestinian man holds a girl injured during shelling at a U.N.-run school sheltering Palestinians, at a hospital in the northern Gaza Strip on July 24, 2014.
Alessio Romenzi for TIME Blood stains of displaced Palestinians are seen inside the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun after it had been hit, Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014. Alessio Romenzi for TIME A Palestinian woman stands in front of buildings damaged by Israeli bombardment in the Jabalia district of the northern Gaza Strip on July 24, 2014. Marco Longari—AFP/Getty Images Relatives hold the bodies of Palestinian children Hadi Abdel Nabi, 3, and one and a-half-year-old Abdel Rahman Abdel Nabi, at the cemetery in Jebaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, during their funeral, July 24, 2014. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP A young Palestinian girl who got injured when a UN school for refugees was allegedly hit by a Israeli tank shells, lies on a hospital bed in the emergency room of Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA Displaced Palestinians from Beit Hanoun sleep inside the UNRWA school in Jabalia, July 23, 2014. Alessio Romenzi for TIME Wounded Israeli soldiers are brought to a helicopter on July 23, 2014 near Kafar Aza, Israel. Andrew Burton—Getty Images Soldiers carry the coffin of Sergeant Max Steinberg during his funeral on July 23, 2014 in Jerusalem. Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images Comrades of slain Sgt. Max Steinberg are comforting each other at Mt. Herzl cemetery, Jerusalem, July 23,2014. Omer Messinger—NurPhoto//REX USA Smoke pours out of the ground due to an alleged campaign by the Israeli military to fill tunnels originating in Gaza with smoke to discover entrances into Israel on July 23, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. Andrew Burton—Getty Images Palestinians take cover as warning Israeli air strikes are fired at a nearby building in Gaza City, July 22, 2014. Finbarr O'Reilly—Reuters Women grieve during the funeral of Islamic Brigades fighter Abdalla Ismail al Buheisi, in Deir Al Balah, on the Gaza Strip, July 22, 2014. Sergey Ponomarev—The New York Times/Redux A Palestinian man looks through the window of his house to buildings damaged by an overnight airstrike in Gaza City, July 22, 2014. Alessio Romenzi for TIME A mosque destroyed overnight in attacks in Rafah, Gaza, July 22, 2014. Sergey Ponomarev—The New York Times/Redux The mother of Israeli soldier Tal Yifrah mourns over his flag-covered coffin during his funeral in Rishon Lezion near Tel Aviv, July 22, 2014. Ronen Zvulun—Reuters Israeli soldiers evacuate their wounded comrades at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on July 20, 2014. Jack Guez—AFP/Getty Images Israeli soldiers stand near their tank while smoke due to airstrikes and shelling rises from Gaza on July 22, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. Andrew Burton—Getty Images Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. Maysun—Corbis Palestinian men bury the bodies of a family who was killed after airstrike in Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. Sergey Ponomarev—The New York Times/Redux Palestinians evacuate a victim from a building that was hit by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, July 20, 2014.
Hosam Salem—NurPhoto/Rex Palestinian refugees unload mattresses at a United Nations shelter in Rafah, Gaza Strip, July 19, 2014. Sergey Ponomarev—The New York Times/Redux Palestinians flee the Shujayeh neighborhood during heavy shelling in Gaza City, July 20, 2014. Alessio Romenzi A Palestinian woman gestures as she stands amidst the rubble of her house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 20, 2014. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa—Reuters A damaged house in Shujayeh neighborhood in Gaza City, seen during a humanitarian cease-fire, July 20, 2014. Alessio Romenzi A Palestinian man holds the hand of a woman, who medics said was wounded in an Israeli air strike, in the northern Gaza Strip July 20, 2014. Abed Abu Reyash—Reuters Relatives of three Palestinians from Abu Muamar family, who medics said were killed in an Israeli air strike, mourn during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 20, 2014. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa—Reuters Palestinians boys watch people fleeing from Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza City, 20 July 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA Palestinians carry a body inside the Shifa Hospital morgue, in Gaza City. July 20, 2014. Alessio Romenzi A Palestinian boy, who medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling, receives treatment at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City July 20, 2014. Ali Jadallah—APA/Landov A doctor cries while standing next to a table with the bodies of four dead children in overflowing morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, July 20, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA A Palestinian woman wearing clothes stained with the blood of other relatives, who medics said were wounded in Israeli shelling, cries at a hospital in Gaza City July 20, 2014. Mohammed Salemm—Reuters Palestinians, who medics said were wounded during heavy Israeli shelling, sit at a hospital in Gaza City July 20, 2014. Mohammed Salem—Reuters A Palestinian woman, who medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling, receives treatment at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, July 20, 2014. APAimages/Rex Two Palestinian men carry a white flag as they flee their homes during a brief period of ceasefire requested by local rescue forces to retrieve dead and wounded from the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza City, July 20, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA A Palestinian girl sits in a minibus after fleeing her family's house during heavy Israeli shelling, in Gaza City July 20, 2014. Suhaib Salem—Reuters A Palestinian woman, who fled her house following an Israeli ground offensive, stays at a United Nations-run school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 20, 2014. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa—Reuters Israeli soldiers fire their weapons during the funeral of their comrade Bnaya Rubel in Holon, near Tel Aviv July 20, 2014. Nir Elias—Reuters Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of killed Israeli soldier Amotz Greenberg during the military funeral ceremony in the cemetery of Hod Hasharon, Israel, 20 July 2014. Abir Sultan—EPA Smoke rises during what witnesses said were heavy Israeli shelling at the Shejaia neighbourhood in Gaza City July 20, 2014. Mohammed Salem—Reuters A Palestinian family who fled their homes is en route to seek shelter in a UN school in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA A Palestinian child along with her family, who fled their home during an Israeli ground offensive, take refuge at a UN school in Gaza City with other families, on July 19, 2014. Mahmud Hams—AFP/Getty Images Palestinians, who fled their houses following an Israeli ground offensive, at a UN school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 19, 2014. Eyad Al Baba—Apaimages/Polaris Israeli tanks maneuver outside the Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. Ronen Zvulun—Reuters Israeli soldiers put on their gear on the side of a road across from the Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. Baz Ratner—Reuters Israeli soldiers rest inside an armoured personnel carrier outside central Gaza Strip July 19, 2014. Amir Cohen—Reuters Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky in the northern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, July 19, 2014. Adel Hana—AP Multiple rocket launches from a site inside the Gaza Strip firing towards Israel are seen from a lookout point in southern Israel on July 17, 2014. Jim Hollander—EPA A Palestinian salvages rubble from a destroyed home after an apartment building was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City on July 18, 2014. Hatem Moussa—AP Palestinian relatives mourn during the funeral of eight members of the same family who were killed overnight in an Israeli strike on July 19, 2014 in Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza strip. Hosam Salem—NurPhoto/Corbis Palestinian mourners gather around the bodies of three siblings of the Abu Musallam family, during their funeral in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. Maysun—Corbis A Palestinian inspects a hole made by an Israeli strike at the damaged Inteiz family house in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP Netream Netzleam holds the body of her daughter Razel, 1, who died in an Israeli air strike on Thursday afternoon, at her funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 18, 2014. Finbarr O'Reilly—Reuters A Palestinian mortician ties a knot around the sheet covering the body of a dead Palestinian man in a morgue in Khan Younis, central Gaza City, July 18, 2014. 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