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California doctor travels to Gaza to treat children injured in Israel-Hamas war

U.S. doctor treats young war victims in Gaza
California doctor works to help youngest victims of Israel-Hamas war 04:41

For Dr. Mohammad Subeh, family and faith are everything, but this Ramadan looks different than previous years. 

The emergency physician, 39, recently returned home from five weeks in Gaza, where he treats the youngest victims of the war between Israel and Hamas. The coastal territory has been under assault by Israel since a brutal Hamas attack left 1,200 people dead in southern Israel. Dozens of hostages are believed to still be held in Gaza. 

The war has left more than 33,000 Palestinians dead, according to international aid agencies, and displaced nearly all of the two million people who live in Gaza. Subeh, a Palestinian refugee who was born in Kuwait and raised in the United States, said that he had never visited Gaza before the war, but felt that he couldn't watch the devastation and do nothing. 

"When I saw that 10-year-old take his last breath, all I could think about was 'I'm still breathing, how come I get to still breathe?'" he explained. 

Mohammad Subeh, far right. CBS Saturday Morning

Subeh decided to go to Gaza, entering through the Rafah crossing. He documented his experiences with a daily video diary. In one entry, he said being on the ground was "almost like a zombie apocalypse movie." 

Subeh said that in Rafah, where about half of Gaza's population is now squeezed, he would see about 200 emergency room patients a day. Most of them were children, he said. 

"I'd never seen so many children killed in my entire career and I've been practicing now, this is my 12th year," Subeh said. "These are things that you never imagine, even in the worst horror movie that you would ever see in real life." 

More than 13,000 Palestinian children across Gaza have been killed in Israeli strikes since Hamas' October 7th attacks, according to UNICEF

Subeh said that the injuries he saw were so serious and the medical resources so scarce that he had to donate his own blood over and over again. Other supplies were impossible to find, he said. 

"One of the basic things that we take for granted here is Tylenol, ibuprofen for fever control, pain control. We did not have that," Subeh said. "That was very painful for me because it's like 'If I only had this one thing, I could maybe have saved this child's life.'" 

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Another harrowing reality, Subeh said, was the number of patients who he would see after they had been dug out from under the rubble of destroyed buildings. Some spent days trapped under collapsed concrete and steel.

"They had faces that you couldn't even recognize," Subeh said in one video diary. "It's as if they'd entered a different realm, a different world." 

Subeh said that while he treated children's injuries, he saw many patients with trauma that may last a lifetime. 

"They came to me with this glazed look of terror," Subeh said. "What impact does this have on them for years to come?" 

After five weeks, he returned to California to reunite with his family and celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Still, what he saw in Gaza still weighs heavily on him.

"I do feel this deep sense of guilt that I left Gaza, and I left the people there that I've grown to really have a deep connection with and love for," Subeh said. 

He hopes he can return to the territory, hopefully in happier times.  

"I would love to see them live with the freedom to be able to do everything that we're able to do," Subeh said. "Every human being deserves that." 

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