צילום: גונן סיבוני
Odessa on Friday
Photo: Gonen Sivoni
Israeli medical students treat wounded in Odessa
After hostilities engulf Ukrainian city, Israelis studying abroad set up command center to help casualties in fighting between Ukrainians and pro-Russian militants.
A few hundred Israelis studying abroad in Ukraine have been treating victims of the violence between government forces and pro-Russian militants.



Gonen, a 25-year-old from southern Israel studying medicine in Odessa, described the mayhem that has engulfed the city since Friday. "Yesterday noon the hostilities started. An activist friend of mine asked me and my friends to help treat the wounded.


"We set up a command and control center just like Magen David Adom (emergency personnel) and brought in the victims. We were three Israelis and four Turkish nationals. We treated about 30 people across the city."



Odessa hostilities (Photo: Gonen Sivoni)
Odessa hostilities (Photo: Gonen Sivoni)


Gonen, a second-year medical students who served as a medic in the IDF, said local residents bought the team bandages and disinfectants: "You can't rely on the Ukrainian authorities from a medical point of view. There were few ambulances so we arrived at different places and simply treated people in the street.


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"We treated them until nighttime. We saw fatalities; this usually-pastoral scene became a war zone. I treated one wounded man while he was surrounded by corpses and people crying and screaming."


Demonstrators clash with police (Photo: AFP)
Demonstrators clash with police (Photo: AFP)


According to Gonen, Odessa enjoyed a certain autonomy, which explained why hostilities only erupted in the city on Friday.


"I felt safe until now, but I won't walk around the city anymore. There are pro-Russian militants carrying Israeli flags to provoke the population. The Israelis here just want to go home," said Gonen.


Near Gonen's apartment (Photo: Gonen Sivoni)
Near Gonen's apartment (Photo: Gonen Sivoni)


"Imagine if two groups began shooting up Tel Aviv. I just want to finish up the year quickly and come home; we will find out if classes will continue on Monday," he said, adding that he believes the Ukrainian education minister will recommend that foreign students leave the country soon.


Alex Sorkin, 29, has been living in Odessa for four years: "I am on my third year of dentistry school. I have Russian and Israeli passports, though I am originally from Haifa. I live in the city center, in the midst of yesterday's hostilities.


Crowds in Odessa on Friday (Photo: AP)
Crowds in Odessa on Friday (Photo: AP)

"I opened my window to let in the breeze and heard explosions and semi-automatic gunfire. I saw a crowd 2,000-large facing off with police forces while on the other side were around 200 pro-Russian activists."

Sorkin said the police were trying to separate the two groups with no success.


"I saw a child lying lifeless after being killed by a 'hot' weapon; no one evacuated him. Police was helpless, and riots broke out when they tried to apprehend the shooters. I left my house and saw part of the protest, the pro-Russians were entrenched somewhere and the Ukrainians attacked them. I saw students and medics treating all types of casualties."


Sorkin said about 300 Israeli students were studying abroad in the region: "People are very nervous. There's even talk of shortening the school year. There is an atmosphere of helplessness. There are no police officers in the streets, shops are closed; it feels like a revolution."


Though there were no concerns over anti-Semitic attacks, some local synagogues canceled prayer services.


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