Bay Area doctor returns from war-torn Gaza medical mission

After five grueling weeks apart, Dr. Mohammad Subeh of Saratoga was welcomed home from Gaza in a warm embrace with his family at San Francisco International Airport on Friday.

"I didn’t know what to expect going into Gaza but when I entered it was like I entered an apocalyptic horror movie," Subeh said.

The emergency room physician from El Camino Hospital in Mountain View took his lifesaving skills to Gaza, where he said medical personnel are hard to come by.

He teamed up with the International Medical Corps to help civilian victims of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, putting himself in harm’s way.

"There’s missile strikes everywhere," Subeh said.

With drones constantly overhead, armed with machine guns, the traumatic experience was something he wasn’t ready for.

"Shrapnel would enter our plot of land," Subeh said.

He and his colleagues worked at a field hospital in Gaza, designed to handle 30 patients a day, but ended up helping nearly a thousand a day.

"I’ve seen more dead babies in the last month than I’ve seen in my 12-year career in medicine," Subeh said.

The threat of Israeli military strikes constantly surrounded his team, he said, and it was overwhelmed by mass casualty situations involving dozens of patients.

Half of his patients were children, and many needed their limbs amputated.

"Many of whom lost their parents," Subeh said.

He did what he could to console the survivors, just by being there and holding them, like his own family did for him at SFO, after weeks apart.

"We’ve been extremely worried about him as well as for all the people in Gaza right now," Subeh’s wife Naiema Din said. "To have him back is a relief."

The San Francisco Bay Area Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the doctor’s efforts highlight the "urgent need for global solidarity and immediate action."

"For me, I learned from this experience the importance of humanizing everyone around you," Subeh said. "I think it’s important for us to wake up to the world around us."

Despite performing 40 surgeries a day, and delivering up to 20 babies a day, the doctor said he would love to go back and help out again.

While his family is Palestinian, he came to the United States as a refugee from Kuwait, after experiencing the Gulf War at a very young age.

Subeh said it was a "no-brainer" that he needed to go to Gaza, to help in any way that he could.