Civil Defense spokesman Major Mahmoud Basal considered that some scenes of death did not reach even cinematic fiction (Al Jazeera)

GAZA – Civil defense teams recovered about 250 bodies of martyrs from streets and roads in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip, during the past five days of the temporary truce between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Israel.

Civil Defense spokesman Major Mahmoud Basal said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera Net, that 90% of these bodies are decomposed and unidentified, for a long stay lying in the streets, without the ambulance and civil defense teams being able to reach and retrieve them, due to the severity of Israeli air raids and ground incursions deep into the areas of Gaza City and its north.

In the following interview, the Civil Defense spokesperson talks about the great challenges facing their work in the field, and painful and moving humanitarian scenes for survivors from under the rubble of their destroyed homes, and for the families of martyrs under the rubble who are in pain, and the ambulance and civil defense teams cannot retrieve them, whether because these houses are located in dangerous areas where Israeli tanks and vehicles are still present, or because of the weakness of human and material capabilities.

  • Did the days of the truce help you to move on the ground to evacuate the wounded and recover the martyrs?

From the first moment the interim armistice agreement came into effect, teams formed for this purpose moved and surveyed the streets and roads in the areas they managed to reach in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip, where there are no Israeli tanks and vehicles.

The occupation forces fire without hesitation at everyone moving and at civilians who tried to reach their homes to inspect them, such as the vicinity of the Al-Quds Hospital of the Red Crescent Society in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood southwest of Gaza City, the Al-Rantisi and Al-Nasr Children's Hospitals in the Al-Nasr neighborhood north of Gaza City, and other areas adjacent to the Israeli security fence in the east of Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip.

Child pulled from rubble in Gaza by Israeli shelling (Al Jazeera)

  • What are the most prominent of these scenes?

Many of these scenes may not have reached the imagination of filmmakers and fictional filmmakers. The bodies of decomposing martyrs, including a group of women, children and men, were killed by the occupation forces while raising white flags and on their way to flee from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip, after the aggression on those areas increased, motivated by Israel to empty them of their inhabitants and push them to flee towards the cities of the southern Gaza Strip.

This crime showed the lie of the safe paths and areas claimed by the occupation, as these and others were shot and directly targeted, without taking into account the white flags that indicate their peacefulness.

There is a scene that cannot fade from my memory, of a mother recovered by civil defense teams embracing her child to protect him until she breathed her last, and another scene of an entire family that our teams pulled from the rubble of her house after 5 days, all of whose members are men, women and children alive.

In Al-Shifa Hospital before it was invaded by the occupation forces, a man came to me asking where the raid was and what was it targeting?, I told him a house in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood belonging to the family of so-and-so, and the owner of that house met him, and his wife and all his children were martyred, and this is a recurring scene that may have been followed by millions around the world in videos spread on social media platforms of doctors, nurses, civil defense personnel and journalists, who are surprised during their field work by receiving their families martyrs and wounded.

  • How many bodies did the Civil Defense teams recover from Gaza and its north?

Since the entry into force of the armistice agreement, we have recovered about 250 bodies, 90% of which are decomposed, unidentified, and it was difficult to identify them because of the significant deformity they suffered as a result of exposure to heavy fire and turning them into pieces, as well as their decomposition, because most of them remained in the streets and roads since the beginning of the ground operation and the incursion of tanks and occupation vehicles deep into Gaza City and cities and areas in the northern Gaza Strip.

These decomposing bodies pose a serious danger to ambulance and civil defense crews, and the population in general, and were supposed to be dealt with by preventive medicine, but as a result of the emergency, our teams cooperated with the families of the martyrs in retrieving them, delivering them to the cemetery and burying them.

  • What about the martyrs trapped under the rubble?

Our work during the days of the truce was limited to recovering the bodies of martyrs from the streets and squares, and we did not deal with the destroyed houses and residential buildings, which the Ministry of Health estimates trapped under about 7,3 missing, as their recovery needs huge mechanisms, to remove thousands of tons of rubble, and the Civil Defense in the northern areas of the Strip, including Gaza City, has only one excavator, after the occupation forces targeted <> excavators and took them out of service, and practiced terrorism against workers on these excavators during the weeks of war, to dissuade them About work and movement in the field.

  • In the language of numbers, what are your human and material losses during the war?

25 individuals were killed and more than 100 others were injured, including amputations, from the field teams of the Civil Defense, as a result of crimes directly targeting them. In addition to the martyrs and wounded field crews, the Israeli occupation forces destroyed the main civil defense center in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, and directly targeted fire trucks and ambulances, as the defense apparatus in the northern Gaza Strip has 32 fire trucks, most of which were out of service, and 5 out of 9 ambulances were out of service.

The Israeli occupation forces also destroyed the main and only water tank that feeds fire trucks, with a capacity of 15,<> liters, built and funded by the State of Qatar in Gaza City, which was out of service and currently needs maintenance.

  • How has this targeting impacted your work?

The Civil Defense apparatus as a result of the siege for many years, and the repeated wars on the Gaza Strip, suffers from several crises plaguing it, most notably the lack of human cadres and weak material capabilities, and it should be noted here that the number of field crews in Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip is only 150 members, out of 800 members at the level of the Strip, knowing that the protocol regulating the work of civil defense agencies worldwide indicates that every thousand citizens need one civil defense element, and this means that we need to 3 times this number to perform the required tasks.

  • The situation is so bad, how long will the martyrs remain buried under the rubble of destroyed houses and buildings?

Sadly, I say that we will not be able to recover the martyrs and missing persons from the rubble of destroyed houses and buildings until the human and material resources are available, and urgently we need 50 excavators and 50 bulldozers, to remove tons of rubble scattered in every street, lane and city at the level of the Gaza Strip.

  • Have you received any external regional or international offers from civil defense agencies to help?

No one has contacted us, no one has offered us assistance with human resources, machinery, equipment and material resources, nor have we received a single liter of fuel since the occupation forces invaded the northern areas of the Gaza Strip and isolated them from the south.

  • What are your current needs priorities?

In short, we need a new civil defense apparatus, and the catastrophic results of the Israeli war cannot be dealt with with our small teams and modest capabilities, a large proportion of which have been out of service.

Source : Al Jazeera