Dr. Moti Klein.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Dr. Moti Klein was working as a nurse and doing his fifth year at Ben-Gurion University’s medical faculty in 1982, the First Lebanon War broke out. Then he was an IDF physician, working in field units until he was released with the rank of lieutenant- colonel. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, one of his children was on reserve duty and saw friends wounded and killed.
“I felt helpless to protect him,” recalls the Kiryat Ataborn specialist. During Operation Protective Edge in Gaza almost a year ago, his youngest son was undergoing basic training. “It seemed imaginary,” said Klein, “generation after generation in war. People abroad who haven’t lived through it have difficulty understanding our lives.”
Klein – today the head of intensive care at Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center – will speak at The Jerusalem Post
Conference in New York on June 7 about “Israel’s Medical Iron Dome: Saving Lives Under Fire,” and try to explain it to a foreign audience anyway.
“At the conference, I want to tell my audience that this last war showed that the terrorists’ abilities have become stronger, and the types of missiles and the enemy’s tactics are getting better,” Klein said. “The tunnels they dug to reach us are getting more dangerous.
We have to do even better to protect ourselves from them in the next war.”
“I prefer to take care of sick people than injured soldiers,” he told the Post in an interview.
His medical center – the only one in the South – received 55 severely wounded officers and soldiers during the 50-day war. Among those, two died. Some were killed in the field, leaving no chance for treatment, but Klein has comfort in the fact that 53 were successfully treated.
Having lived through so many terrorist attacks and wars, Soroka staffers have “plenty of experience there and in the field. Doctors, paramedics and medics – men and women – got to almost every wounded soldier immediately,” he said. “The soldiers didn’t have to reach, or be taken to, collection points.
My own department’s teams were among those who flew to the war zone in helicopters and continued to treat them in Soroka’s intensive care unit when the war ended. I didn’t know whether to ask the IDF to release them from military service or allow them to go to the front. In the end, I let them leave for the front, even though we needed them in the hospital.”
Soroka was able to handle all the wounded – in addition to civilian injured and regular sick patients – with the exception of some rehabilitation patients, which it sent northward.
Although missiles and rockets were hurled in the environs of Soroka, none of them actually hit the buildings. In the previous Gaza operation, a missile struck 50 meters from the hospital.
“There almost wasn’t a day without one, and usually there were many,” Klein said. “The medical center is not adequately fortified. The neonatal unit was not fortified and half of the operating theaters also weren’t. The lessons of the war was not that we in the hospital have to function better, but that the state has to eliminate the threat of missiles and protect us better. Both the patients and the staff have to feel safe. It should have the highest priority.”