"We tried to do our best for the people in Gaza. That is not enough."

Aziz Rhali and Dr. Rashid El-Katibi narrate the plight of the people in Gaza.

Aziz Rhali, a pharmacist and Dr. Rashid El-Katibi are part of a 10 member medical delegation from the People's Health Movement in Morocco. They spent the last

two weeks in Gaza's war torn areas. Working closely with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (an active member of the Global People's Health Movement), they treated the war wounded and helped to train the medical staff.

This team has run similar missions to Iraq and Lebanon in the aftermath of the wars there and is well experienced in working in such situations. However, they say what they saw is Gaza is not comparable to any situation. "It is death and destruction everywhere".

While this medical delegation was in Gaza, there was further bombing and came very close further illustrating the plight of independent humanitarian workers.

Despite a temporary truce, the living conditions in Gaza are deplorable and people continue to live in a state of shock. Humanitarian assistance is further complicated by the travel restrictions for humanitarian and aid agencies into Gaza. Recent reports of aid "diversion" by Hamas have also complicated the situation. (Hamas has now agreed to release the UN aid that was recently seized by a section of the local authorities).

"Bombing must stop and aid must reach the war wounded", say the doctors. "World has a collective responsibility to ensure this"

The situation is complex - so are the challenges and needs. Meeting the immediate health and humanitarian needs and rebuilding Gaza is going to be a marathon race which calls for long term vision and commitment. For example, an estimate (by Handicap International) show that 30% of those who where injured are at risk of becoming permanently disabled.

On their way back to Morocco, they stopped in Cairo and spoke to the People's Health Movement. Excerpts from their eye witness account.

How bad is the situation?
It is difficult to explain. You see destruction everywhere. Moreover, the little help that is aimed for Gaza is getting blocked and delayed.

For example, firstly, it is very difficult to get into Gaza as there are severe travel restrictions at Israeli check points. We entered through the Egyptian border (of Rafah). However, this border is also now closed. We were in fact, asked to shorten our mission and evacuate.

Local government is also cautious and screens aid. Even the doctors coming from Arab countries, if not through Arab Union of Doctors in Egypt, is not allowed to work.

Living conditions, water, food and electricity.
Water and electricity are available for some communities. However, 50,000 people have no access to water, 200,000 people receive water on weekly basis. Food is getting difficult with each passing day. There are concerns about all essential and life saving support if the bombing resumes.

There is need for warm clothes and day to day items. Thousands of houses and schools have been damaged. People are staying in open places.

How about medicines?
Medicines are available for the moment. However, because of screening, there is a delay in getting medicines to the appropriate places. For example, we carried 8 tonnes of medical supplies. It is yet to get released for public use as it is still under screening.

What work did you do there?
We worked in make shift camps, hospitals and through mobile medical units. We worked in small groups with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) and were deployed in several places to treat people.

In addition to the emergency medical treatment, we also trained doctors on using ultra sound machines and other such equipments.

Moving around, we worked in several places. There is also lot of chaos, for obvious reasons. It is still a war zone. Sometimes, we had to spend time to help organize things- for example, we helped to organize the functioning of a hospital.

What kind of health and medical problems are there in Gaza now?
Bullet and bomb injuries, burns and trauma. There are also burn cases from use of white phosphorous. It also depends on the location. For example, we treated a young child who was shot in the head. Another young man was shot in the lungs. There are hundreds of survivors who sustained multiple fractures and amputations.

Children are hit in large numbers. There are lots of depression cases. We met several people, especially children, who are severely traumatized. For example, in Om El Nasr village (15 to 20 minutes drive from Gaza city), we were treating a young mother. She became pregnant after lot of treatment and it was a precious pregnancy for her. She gave birth to a triplet but all three children died during the recent bombing.

What is the situation of doctors, paramedics and health workers?
14 medical staff has been killed in the bombing. Many of them have lost family members or have been injured. They are going through trying times. The bombing and even the fear of bombing are all amplifying their suffering.

Ambulances were shot and damaged due to bombing. Hospitals are also affected.

What are the immediate needs in Gaza?
Firstly, Israel must stop the bombing and lift the blockade. Secondly, Hamas must open more to include other humanitarian actors and don't interfere with medical and other responses. Most importantly, all crossings into Gaza and Israel must be opened and the quota for the number of aid convoys and relief materials need to be increased. This is a start.

In addition to this, there is need to step up humanitarian, medical and recovery efforts. Children deserve special attention. It is also important to deal with the psychosocial aspects deal with trauma and help rebuild Gaza through economic and livelihood efforts.

Ensuring free, full and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza by all parties is crucial ensuring saving lives of people there.