The Palestinian medical and rescue team in Ecuador is here to show solidarity with the country’s people and return the favor for the support of the Palestinian cause, Khaled Bawaknah, orthopedics surgeon with the rescue team in Ecuador told teleSUR Monday as his team joined aid efforts after the massive 7.8 earthquake last week.
“People who suffer tragedies and are exposed to disasters and wars always feel with other people who suffer similar misfortunes,” Bawaknah said from Manabi during a phone interview.
“As you know we are still under the Israeli occupation which inflicts destruction on mosques and churches. Israel tries to destroy everything (in the Palestinian lands).”
Palestinian doctor Khaled Bawaknah speaks on the phone in Manabi.
Therefore, he added, whenever the Palestinian people see any other country exposed to similar destruction and tragedy “even if it is caused naturally, as an act of God if you will, of course we would be in solidarity with it especially when it is the people of Ecuador who have stood by the Palestinian cause and supported the moves of the (Palestinian) president in the United Nations.”
By sending the professional, yet small team to Ecuador, the Palestinian government is attempting to show gratitude and “return the favor with solidarity. In fact both sides love each other and as they say ‘Viva Ecuador’,” the doctor added.
The team was set up within five hours by the Health Ministry in Palestine, according to Bawaknah.
“The Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called the foreign minister and asked him to organize an urgent medical team to be sent from Palestine to Ecuador.”
The team started work right away. “We are 20 doctors and we divided ourselves into four different teams. We saw that many people had set up tents close to their houses and some of them were elderly who could not commute so we decided to go to them, to where they are.”
He added that many more Palestinian doctors and medical professionals wanted to come but “could not due to the limited Palestinian resources.”
In order to establish communication with those who need help, “with each of our teams there is a person from the Palestinian community in Ecuador helping us with translating from Arabic to Spanish and Spanish to Arabic.”
A saddened Bawaknah further likened the situation at the affected areas of Ecuador with scenes from Gaza following the Israeli 50-day attack in summer 2014.
“Yesterday I visited several destroyed towns. For us Palestinians we can describe it in the same way as what happened to Gaza by the Israeli attack in 2014.
Some of us had been to Gaza over the past few years and we can say it is the same sort of destruction,” he said.
The end of the mission has not yet been determined. “We met yesterday with the Ecuadorean health minister and we told her that we will be here as long as we are needed and until the situation calms down,” he added.
Bawaknah’s team is made of 20 people and includes several surgeons who are specialized in dealing with severe injuries and can perform urgent medical assistance.