Friday, December 22, 2023

Mourning the Al-Haitham's

Mourning the Al-Haitham's

by Tarek Loubani

December 21, 2023
I have been deeply mourning Dr. Hani Al-Haitham since he was killed a few days ago. I want to tell you about Hani, an incredible person and doctor. He was killed with his wife, Dr. Samira Al-Ghefari and their five children, Sherin, Thea (Tota), Sara, Samir, and Wafaa. 

Hani just turned 41 years old when he was killed and only a few years into his career as an emergency doctor. He boarded in 2019 and became head of Shifa's ER a few weeks before COVID hit. He met the challenge, helping reconfigure the department for the pandemic.

Hani was a talented Emergency Physician, but Emergency was his second career. Hani was first an accomplished neurosurgeon. In 2009, he was part of the first team to remove a brain tumour in Gaza. This remarkable feat allowed patients to be treated under blockade in Gaza.

These weren't just lifesaving surgeries, but also quality of life ones like spinal canal widening. When I met Hani in 2011, I just turned thirty and he was about to. I was beginning my career and he already got bored with his. We served in the ER during the 2012 war together.

He felt he could make a bigger impact in the ER, especially during wars. He joined the board program, and for four years after, he was one of our students. It was obvious he should become the new chief of Shifa's emergency department, a job we had to convince him to take.

In 2021, he led the department through a war. Over the past two months, he served fearlessly, among the last doctors out of Shifa as Israel besieged it. He miraculously escaped arrest as he left, which may be why he was assassinated with his family.

His wife, Dr. Samira Al-Ghefari, was an accomplished doctor in her own right. While raising five children, she got a Master's degree in 2019. She cared deeply about women's health and primary care. I didn't know her well, but I knew enough to be in awe.

"We belong to our nation. In it we'll stay. We were born here; raised here; were students and spent our nights studying here. We worked here. We had a duty, and we honoured it. This nation is carried forward through selfless sacrifice, toil, and perseverance."

His children were killed with him, beautiful and vibrant balls of energy who I only met briefly during visits to Hani's home to talk shop. Samir celebrated his 7th birthday on Nov 14th, hungry and afraid as Israel's bombs fell, not knowing if he would ever see his father again.

Rest in Peace, Hani

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Yousef M. Aljamal, Tarek Loubani December 20, 2023

This Week on GR

by C.L. Cook -

December 20, 2023
Welcome to Gorilla Radio, recorded December 20, 2023

Listen. Hear.

Seventy-five days and nights of bombs, rockets, and bullets in Gaza has killed, maimed, and made homeless hundreds of thousands. And, the numbers keep growing; relentless as the determination of Israel’s leadership to repeat the great Palestinian disaster, The Nakba. The litany of crimes committed against the civilian population is too long to provide a proper reckoning – for now – but it’s vital we watching from afar recognize: The cold data presented by media are abstractions designed to deaden us to the horror of what’s happening. The children daily murdered by Israel in Gaza, and increasingly in the West Bank, are yours and mine and ours; not line items without humanity to be tallied in a grotesque, macabre accountancy.

Refaat Alareer was killed by Israel two weeks ago. He was, among other things, a co-founder in 2014 of We Are Not Numbers, an organization dedicated to telling the stories of the lives of Palestinians killed by Israel.

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian author and scholar. He was a student of Refaat, and collaborated with him on the renowned anthology, ‘Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine. He currently lives in Istanbul, from where he has hosted the PalCast podcast since October.


Refaat Alareer

Yousef M. Aljamal in the first half.

And; in addition to assassinating Gaza’s journalists, writers, and poets, part of Israel’s pogrom is too aimed at the more prosaic necessities of life, like healthcare. Since the beginning of the onslaught in October Israel has targeted ambulances, medics, hospitals, and clinics of all description. Its military has also kidnapped doctors, and is now subjecting them to forced-confession interrogations, disseminating those through friendly Western media and on the internet. But this tactic of attacking doctors and medics, ambulances and hospitals is not novel; Israel has long practiced it.

Tarek Loubani is a Canadian/Palestinian doctor who can testify first-hand to that. He was shot through both legs whilst tending to the wounded – wearing his Canadian hospital scrubs – during 2018’s Great March of Return in Gaza. Tarek is a London, Ontario-based doctor and serves as medical director to the Glia Project’s Canada office. Glia seeks to provide medical supplies to impoverished and traumatized locales, one of which being the hospital Tarek worked from in Gaza, al-Shifa.


Dr. Hani Al-Haitham

Tarek Loubani and saving Gaza’s medical practitioners in the second half.

But first, Yousef M. Aljamal and keeping the stories of Palestinian’s alive.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcasting since 1999. Check out the Archive at,, and the GR blog at: