“As of Saturday, we began preparations to move all the inpatients of the medical center to protected hospitalization and treatment spaces,” said Galilee Medical Center deputy director Dr. Zvi Sheleg.
By Roy Fridlander
October 26, 2023
With a ground war in Gaza and escalation of rocket fire imminent, Israeli hospitals are going underground.
The Galilee Medical Center in the northern city of Nahariya has moved its 700 beds below ground and has a series of tunnels for ambulances to safely deliver patients.
The hospital is located just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the Lebanese border.
“As of Saturday, we began preparations to move all the inpatients of the medical center to protected hospitalization and treatment spaces,” said the hospital’s deputy director, Dr. Zvi Sheleg.
“The critical sites themselves, the ER, the shock [trauma] rooms, the operating rooms are all protected every day so that it’s the same space. All the underground hospital sites are connected by tunnels through which the wounded, teams and more can be transported,” he said.
He added that 30% of the beds have been placed on standby and are being made ready to receive patients.
Since Oct. 7, terror groups in Lebanon have been firing anti-tank rockets at Israeli military positions and communities near the border, including Nahariya.
“So far, we have received over 200 wounded from the battles near the Lebanese border, some of them soldiers, some of them civilians,” Sheleg noted.
When possible, patients will be transferred to hospitals in central Israel “so we can maintain our level of alertness,” he stressed.
“Our preparedness should be such that we can respond to a significant flare-up on the northern border and treat patients here in the protected and underground spaces under a prolonged missile attack,” Sheleg explained.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group is believed to have 100,000-150,000 missiles.
Following the Second Lebanon War of 2006, Haifa’s Rambam Hospital designed a three-level, 1,500-vehicle underground parking lot that can be converted into a 2,000-bed hospital within 72 hours.
Rambam staff has already completed the conversion at the request of Israel’s Home Front Command. During the coronavirus pandemic, one floor was used as a COVID ward. The floor can function independently with electricity, water and oxygen supply.