Canadian shot in Gaza says he was 'clearly marked' as a doctor

Canadian shot in Gaza says he was 'clearly marked' as a doctor

'We just want to make sure that if people get into trouble, we're there to help them,' says Dr. Tarek Loubani

Dr. Tarek Loubani, a physician from London, Ont., was treating gunshot wound patients in Gaza when he became one himself. (Khalil Hamra/Associated Press)

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Dr. Tarek Loubani decided not to use the tourniquet in his pocket to stop the bleeding when he was shot in the legs at the Gaza border on Monday.

The London, Ont., physician was treating injured Palestinians when he was shot.  But he says his wound wasn't serious enough to waste precious medical supplies.

Israeli forces killed at least 60 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2,700 since Monday at the border, Reuters reports. Israel says it is defending its border and has accused Hamas of using protests as a cover for attacks.

Loubani is on the ground in Gaza. He spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the unfolding situation. 

Here is part of that conversation.

Dr. Loubani, what were you doing just before you were shot?

I was away from the protest scene in a relative lull. There was no smoke or tear gas. There had been lots of that earlier in the day.

I was with my medical team of first responders. They were mostly paramedics.

We had just resupplied for tourniquets, which we used to stop bleeding and people who are shot in the arms or legs.

All of a sudden I heard an incredibly loud bang. I ended up on the ground and the first thing I yell, just as loud as I could, was, "F--k."

And you you were shot in the leg.

I was shot in both legs. The bullet came from the left part of my left leg, went through the left leg and then through the right leg.

The right leg is minor — didn't hit any bones or any muscles. The left leg, though, is really sore. Didn't hit any bones, but definitely did some damage.

Loubani says he was wearing clothing clearly marking him as medical staff when he was shot by Israeli forces.(Submitted: Tarek Loubani)

Did you have a tourniquet that you could use on your own legs?

I had a tourniquet in my pocket. We had eight left. 

The rescuer, a paramedic named Musa [Abuhassanin], came to me and he sort of made a gallows humour comment and then started taking care of me, looked at my leg, and said: "What do you think, doctor? Should we put on a tourniquet?"

I looked at it and I knew that if we were in London or anywhere else we'd tourniquet this thing, but we just had too few and I knew there'd be so many more worse injuries, so I said no.

We bandaged it up as best as we could. It bled like hell for a while, but obviously I was fine. And the tourniquet did get used — the one in my pocket and the other eight were used over the next few hours.

That doctor you just mentioned, a member of your team, Musa, what happened to him?

Musa's my rescuer. He was a very bright guy. Incredible man. 

About an hour after he rescued me, he was trying to get another patient, and ended up getting shot in the chest.

Unfortunately, he died.

Musa Abuhassanin, right, was a first responder in Gaza who was shot in the chest and killed. Moumin Hmaid, left, is a paramedic who took a bullet to the right ankle. (Submitted by Tarek Loubani)

How many of the medics who were there treating people were injured or killed yesterday?

There were 17 paramedics who were injured plus myself, and then Musa was killed. 

It's unfortunate because we, as a medical team, always hope for and expect some protection. We're not there politically. 

We just want to make sure that if people get into trouble, we're there to help them.

Were you wearing anything, any symbol of being a medic and being a doctor?

I was wearing full hospital greens — London Health Sciences greens, actually, from London, Ont., which I'm going to have to explain to linen why they have bullet holes.

A team of medical volunteers from left, Mohammed Migdad, Hassan Abusaada; Tarek Loubani, Moumin Silmi, Youssef Almamlouk, Musa Abuhassanin and an unknown volunteer. (Submitted by Tarek Loubani)

Do you believe that members of your team the medics were targeted by the Israelis?

I don't know. I'm a doctor and doctors don't make conclusions, they make observations.

My observation is that I was clearly marked and I was shot. 

I don't feel I was caught in crossfire, but I can't speak to the intentions of the sniper who shot me.

The Israelis say they're using lethal force only to protect their border that they have the right to defend. They say that those who were there were trying to attack the fence or threaten border securityWhat do you say to that?

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