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Diary of a doctor in Tel Al-Zaatar
By: Dr. Youssif Iraki
November 11, 2016

"... Sometimes we would visit the fighters at their sites in Al-Qalaa to see the fortifications installed by the resistance fighters. On one sunny day, we went walking through the pine forest between Tel Al-Zaatar and Jisr El-Basha. We also crossed the ditches dug by the resistance fighters. We spent a nice peaceful day. Upon our return to the hospital, and while making a phone call to Beirut, the mortar rockets started to fall like rain from AlMansouriyeh (Lebanese village in the mountains overlooking Tel Al Zaatar camp from the eastern side) that lied on the highest top of the camp. We had many casualties then. We could have been among them together with the nurses had we been few minutes late. All the rockets fell on the road we had just crossed.

Most of the injured were children. A rocket fell on a training camp for children and 16 of them were killed. Casualties were increasing and the hospital was full of them. Here again, we started our hard work. I would never forget in my whole life that man who came in his nightgown with his right lung out of his chest and his intestines out of his body. He lived for few minutes and then passed away..."

"... Few days later, the big attack on the camp started on Tuesday June 22. That night we stayed up late. Sporadic night shelling was very normal and all the people were staying in the shelters...

"... That night we stayed up late till the first rays of the dawn, to hear bombardment as never before. Shelling continued together with rockets pouring like rain making the hospital building shake many times. We counted the number of rockets per minute and came up to 24. The continuity of shelling was never like before. Luckily, the shelling was early before the day break; had it started later in the morning, we would have had many victims.

People usually leave their shelters in the morning to look for their daily needs and come back. That day they could not, as the shelling started in the night and continued till morning hours. We could not find any explanations to what is happening. Right after that, they started an intensive offensive on the camp from Al-Mansouriyeh village; heavy shelling was only to prepare for the attack. But the attackers were not able to make any progress on the ground. We could not believe that they would dare to do it. The first day ended without making progress and without casualties as well. However, the falling of eight thousand rockets on the camp were enough to destroy most of the houses.

In the evening, Salman, the military commander of the camp, informed us that we should get ready as more attacks were planned. Few days earlier, they failed to attack the camp from AlDikwaneh sector (north to the camp) and Deir Al-Raie Al-Saleh (west to the camp) as well. I also remembered that a group of resistance fighters under the leadership of Adham, the camp resistance military leader, crossed the mountains to arrive at 3:00 a.m. to the camp. The resistance fighters of the camp succeeded in stopping a big offensive. The arrival of new fighters to the camp, though they were few , raised the moral spirit of the camp fighters.

Following the rockets, the attack started on the Mkalles village from the Al-Mansouriyeh. It was a great failure. Many were killed and they also lost six military vehicles. This ended the first day; a calm night began, and was the calmness that preceded the storm..."

"... we left to Al-Damour (a town about 20 kilometers south for Beirut ) which was chosen as a temporary place for the inhabitants of Tel Al Zaatar to choose a temporary site for the Red Crescent continuing on our course with people who remained from Tel Al Zaatar. Those people who had made such a humanitarian and revolutionary impression in our hearts that I will never forget all my life. Tel Al Zaatar remained, with its fighting men, struggling… struggling until its martyrdom. It was killed in action and did not fall. In it were left some 3000 martyrs who had given their lives to the heroic battle of steadfastness and resistance till martyrdom became a symbol of resistance for both the Palestinian and the Lebanese..."

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