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Human Rights

‘My Heart is in Gaza, It Will Stay in Gaza’: American Nurse’s Emotional Journey in Gaza

American nurse Emily Callahan, recently evacuated from Gaza, shared her experiences and emphasized her deep connection with the region and its people amidst Israeli bombardment.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, she stated, “My heart is in Gaza, it will stay in Gaza.” Callahan, who worked with Doctors Without Borders, spent 26 days in Gaza during the conflict with Israel and Hamas, which began in early October and was evacuated last week.

She spoke about the “incredible” people she worked with, both the national staff and her colleagues at Indonesia Hospital, saying, “The Palestinian people that I worked with both our national staff in the office as well as my staff at Indonesia Hospital were some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in my life.”

She described an event in which they lost a nurse who was killed when the ambulance outside Indonesia Hospital was destroyed. In the face of danger, the healthcare professionals were committed to their community, even when they received a notice to move to the southern Gaza Strip. The response from the medical staff was persistent, with one individual stating, “This is our community. This is our family. These are our friends. If they’re going to kill us, we’re going to die saving as many people as we can.”

Callahan, while talking about the people who stayed back, said, “The doctors and nurses didn’t leave, out of loyalty to their community. I want to remind people that those who stayed behind are heroes.”

“They know they’re gonna die, and they’re choosing to stay behind anyway.”

The conflict in Gaza began when Israel launched air and ground attacks in response to a cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7. According to the latest reports, at least 10,328 Palestinians, including 4,237 children and 2,719 women, have been killed in Gaza.

Furthermore, the region is facing severe shortages of basic necessities due to a “full siege” imposed by Israel, severely limiting humanitarian aid deliveries. In the past month, only a fraction of the essential supplies needed has arrived in Gaza, causing increased hardships for the local population.

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