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'I can't look them in the eyes': Vancouver surgeon describes horrific scene in Israel hospital


When news broke that Israel was under attack and hundreds of civilians were killed, injured or kidnapped, Dr. Dynai Eilig knew he had to help.

“I have to do this, just so I can show my kids that there are certain times in life you have to get involved,” said Eilig, an orthopedic surgeon who works in Vancouver but is from Israel. “You can’t stay on the sidelines.”

He tells CTV News despite hospitals being more calm than they were a week ago, he and his team have been overcome with emotion.

“I’ve never seen a surgeon cry before,” said Eilig, speaking to CTV News via Zoom from Be’er Sheva. “I mean, in that room, you see a lot of surgeons – with a lot of experience who’ve seen and went through everything at this point – break down in tears.”

Eilig says his schedule is full of surgeries, all of which are related to the surprise attack by Hamas that killed at least 1,400 people and injured many more.

“Gunshot wounds, penetrating wounds or bomb shells. 100 percent of the injuries are war-related injuries and these are very, very complicated.”

Eilig recalls one horrific story of a young woman he operated on who attended Israel’s Supernova Music Festival, where at least 260 people were slaughtered.

“When we saw her, her skull was bashed in. So, you know, someone shot her from behind, she dropped, he came to her and he smashed her skull in, after she was already disabled,” said Eilig, adding the emotional toll of the situation has made him unable to look the victims or family members in the eyes.

Despite high tension between Israel and Hamas, Eilig says some of the hospital patients include fighters from Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by many countries, including Canada.

"I know that if I say it, a lot of people will get mad at it because people have vengeance on their mind, But when it comes to medicine, it's all pretty sterile and pretty clean,” said Eilig.

His wife, Dr. Mor Cohen Eilig, told CTV News she’s both proud and fearful for her husband.

“I still have those mixed feelings inside of me,” said Cohen Eilig. “Being very scared for him and for my family, but also knowing that there is no other choice.”

Cohen Eilig says in addition to fearing for her husband’s safety in a war zone, she’s also worried about life for her children in Vancouver.

“My kids didn’t want to go to school on Friday. They genuinely just said we’re afraid. We’re afraid to get murdered, we’re afraid to get killed, that someone will hurt us,” said Cohen Eilig.

Vancouver police have increased their presence at Jewish synagogues, community centres and schools amidst heightened security risks. Officers arrested a man last week for making antisemitic remarks outside Vancouver’s Talmud Torah school.

Meanwhile back in Israel, Eilig tells CTV News he’s rediscovered some hope in the region by working with his team, featuring health-care workers of different backgrounds.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Muslim or a Jew. Everybody pitched in. Everybody sweats the same sweat to help victims. And quite frankly, I find this very encouraging.”

Eilig says as much as he’d like to return home to his family, he’s determined to stay until he’s no longer needed. Top Stories

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