"I see a similarity between our missions, a kind of bond. Both the IDF and Soroka are on the front line. We know that if we don't do our job right, there's no one else to do it for us." Major General, IDF Southern Command.
Throughout the 1960s, which were characterized by a great deal of military
activity, many wounded soldiers were treated in Soroka's Surgical and
Orthopedics departments. With the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967, the
hospital faced the challenge of operating under emergency conditions for the
first time since its opening. It successfully passed its baptism of fire,
gaining an excellent reputation in terms of patient care and treatment of the
families of the wounded. Following the Six-Day War, while all the other
hospitals in Israel returned to their regular routines, Soroka naturally
remained on the front lines, treating the wounded from the 3-year period of
attrition in the area of the Suez Canal. Often our doctors went into the field
to treat the wounded, as they did when a bomb exploded in the Port of Eilat or
when passengers from a Libyan plane downed by the IAF near the Suez Canal needed
On Yom Kippur, Shabbat October 6, 1973 at 12:00 noon, the
hospital went into emergency mode. During the Yom Kippur War, 820 beds were
available, 6 operating rooms were in operation, and over 400 operations were
performed, some extremely complicated, saving the lives of many of the wounded.
A special unit for intensive respiratory care was put into operation.
More recently, in the January, 2009 Operation Cast Lead,
the city of Beer-Sheva came under missile fire from the Gaza Strip and the IDF
conducted a ground campaign against Gaza. This was a trying and difficult time
of high anxiety and fear, but Soroka stood strong as a pillar of strength and
professionalism for soldiers and civilians.
In the shadow of the escalation
in the South and the missile fire on Beer-Sheva, Soroka had prepared ahead of
time for all possible scenarios. The alert level at the hospital was raised, and
the hospital entered a "special situation" in which key figures in all medical
areas were placed on high alert and were ready to arrive at short notice day and
night. In a matter of hours, 110 mothers who had just given birth and 56
premature babies were transferred to the new building for Maternity and
Gynecology six months before its planned opening. This rapid organization
allowed us to provide the best possible services to the mothers and babies.
24-hour "situation room" was established at the hospital with the opening of the
ground campaign, and manned with representatives of the management, senior
physicians, nurses, and others. Equipped with advanced technological means, it
allowed for full control over data and activities at the hospital, which worked
around the clock.
A special unit for treating victims of trauma was opened
and included psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, doctor, and nurses
who provided immediate care to those in need. Over 50 surgical operations were
conducted on soldiers and civilians by various surgeons—neurosurgeons,
orthopedic surgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons, ear, nose, and throat surgeons,
ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and more. All the soldiers and citizens
treated at Soroka during Operation Cast Lead were released in good condition
Facts and Figures from Operation Cast Lead
582 wounded were treated at Soroka. Of these more than
200 were soldiers wounded in the Gaza Strip
Over 300 civilians with physical wounds and emotional
damage) were treated at Soroka
Dozens of operations were conducted on the
Hundreds of units of blood were donated for the
19 helicopters with wounded landed at the hospital's
9 departments were moved to protected areas of the
Approximately 500 volunteers worked at the
825 babies were born during the war
Since the schools were closed, over 300 children of
hospital workers attended a "camp" in a protected area of the hospital so that
their parents could continue to work routinely and calmly during the war. Music
lessons, films, computer games, science lessons, games, and more were provided
by volunteers and the staff of the Educational Center for Hospitalized Children.
In addition, over 70 children of hospital workers were sent to Haifa to a
special camp during the war.
Stories from Operation Cast
Ben Buchnik, the last soldier from Gaza who was in grave condition, was taken by helicopter to the trauma room at Soroka on the last Saturday of the war in the afternoon with a head injury and hospitalized in the ICU. Approximately 24 hours later, he regained consciousness and began to breathe on his own. He was hospitalized in the Department of Neurosurgery and eventually discharged in good condition
A moving brit mila ceremony was held at Soroka's synagogue for the nephew of soldier Dvir Bar Hai, who was seriously wounded during the war. The family decided to hold the brit near the wounded uncle
One of the soldiers was hospitalized with a piece of shrapnel close to his aorta. In a rare surgical procedure, Soroka surgeons removed the shrapnel from his heart and the soldier was released after a few days in good condition. The director of the Department of Cardiothoracic surgery gave him the piece of shrapnel and a video tape of the surgery as souvenirs.