Emergency care at 40,000ft: On board the flying hospitals taking injured Palestinians to safety

This video contains distressing images

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo was allowed onto one of the evacuation flights, from just inside Egypt's border with Gaza to Qatar, where they will receive treatment.

The sun was setting over the El Arish airfield, less than 30 miles from the Rafah border crossing, but it felt more like a new dawn than dusk.

As Palestinian patients were pushed in their wheelchairs, or carried on stretchers up the steps towards the C-17 transporter, they were in every sense on an upward path.

For the 29 evacuees and their families boarding a Qatari Air Force plane to Doha this journey offered a fresh chance.

A chance to receive the medical help they simply could not get in Gaza and with it, the chance for survival.

Since the Emir of Qatar announced plans to treat 1,500 injured people from Gaza, there have been 18 flights filled with patients.

They are picked up, then flown the three hour flight from Sinai to Doha.

Flights are taking sick Palestinians to Doha. Credit: ITV News

On board, doctors carry out medical procedures and counsellors hold sessions with children.

So far around 450 are receiving treatment in Doha, with some of their family members housed nearby.

“When I see... 30 patients, around 30 patients - I (have to) control myself to continue my work,” says Hashem Naeem Darwish of Qatari Red Crescent Society, and one of the organisers of the evacuation mission.

He fights back tears as he introduces ITV News to the patients who fill the 20 beds set up for the sickest patients.

One of them is Israa, who is wearing a surgical mask to conceal her eyes. “I was going to visit my sister, when the window blew up in my face," she explains. "Lots of pieces of glass hit my eyes. I hope that God and the doctors can make me see again.”

She has lost the sight in one eye but is hoping that doctors in Doha will be able to save the other.

“Going to Qatar means I will go back to life. I feel isolated from life at the moment,” she said.

“I will continue to study. I was learning to be architect, I have one year left to graduate and I was the top of my year with distinction.”

After touchdown there is one decision left for the doctors to take. Who should be allowed off the flight first, to receive hospital treatment?

Abdullah, bandaged with severe facial burns and fractured arms who has, at points, been screaming during the fight to Qatar. Credit: ITV News

They select 13-year-old Abdullah - a boy with a bandaged head with severe facial burns and fractured arms who has, at points, been screaming during the fight to Qatar.

He is brought down the steps and into the first of a fleet of ambulances waiting to bring the patients to clinics across Doha. He is visibly in pain. He is not alone.

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