A war surgeon who spent 43 days performing operations in Gaza following the outbreak of war is standing to be rector of the University of Glasgow, as he calls for the establishment to divest itself from the arms trade.

Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah is a British-Palestinian associate professor of surgery who studied medicine at the University, and has operated as a war surgeon in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and South Lebanon.

He was based in Shifa Hospital and Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza for 43 days during the current conflict, with evidence submitted by him used as part of South Africa's case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

Speaking of his experiences in Gaza, Dr Abu-Sittah told The Herald: "The term ‘genocidal war’ is not just a political or a metaphorical one - you can feel it.

“You can feel it when you look out the window and see a whole neighbourhood go up in flame, turn into a ball of dust and disappear; when ambulances are bringing five or six people stacked up in one go.

“You realise the mass carnage that’s happening, and it was that from the very beginning.

“Shifa had a bed capacity of 600 and it was full up by the end of the first week I was there - I got there on October 9.

"You’re being overwhelmed by all the wounded people, you’re working flat out from eight in the morning until 1 o’clock the following morning, operating on usually 10 or 12 people.

"Every day there were more patients stacking up who needed to go to surgery that you just didn’t have the capacity or the consumables to treat.

"As the Israelis started taking out one hospital after another the pressure just got worse and worse. When Shifa was completely surrounded I ended up going to Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, there were two operating rooms, myself and an orthopaedic surgeon, and we were the only hospital functioning in Gaza City.

The Herald: Wounded Palestinians at al-Shifa hospital (Abed Khaled/AP)

“At one stage we had over 500 wounded, so by the end you were just so overwhelmed.

“This siege meant that everything you used was never replenished, which meant that within a couple of weeks we’d run out of morphine.

"By the end we’d run out of ketamine, which we used as an anaesthetic, and we were having to do nasty, painful procedures with no anaesthetic at all.

“The patients who had surgery were being given paracetamol intravenously as pain relief."

It wasn't just medical supplies which proved to be an issue, with Israel able to turn off the power and water to the Gaza Strip and block supplies of fuel.

Dr Abu-Sittah said: "At one stage we had to turn off one of the two generators at Shifa hospital because there wasn’t enough fuel to run all of the operating rooms.

“Half of the operating rooms were unusable going into November.

“The UN had done a project in which it put solar panels on all the hospitals in Gaza to make it so they weren’t completely dependent on fuel for the generators and they took them out.

“There literally was a night in which those were taken out: the one in the Indonesia hospital, the one in Shifa hospital – they were all systematically taken out.

Read More: ICJ ruling on Israel and Gaza - international law expert reacts

“In terms of supplies, everything from the anti-septic solutions to the dressings we need for burns, nothing was being replenished.

“The number of wounded meant that you were using so much every day.

"Israeli leaders, military and political, have said that the aim of this is to drive Palestinians out of Gaza and one of the ways you do that is by dismantling the health system.

"I was in Al-Ahli Baptist when the missile landed, then they were talking about bunkers under Shifa hospital but at the same time they took out three pediatric hospitals – literally took them out.

"Every hospital, at the time, was being taken out and now in the south they’ve done the same – there’s only one functioning tertiary hospital in the whole of the south which is the European hospital in Rafa.

“The others are either surrounded, have been attacked, or they have these quad-copters with sniper guns around the hospital which shoot at anyone who tries to get close.

“One of the important things that was submitted to the ICJ was that when they surrounded Shifa, people didn’t notice that they’d also surrounded the blood bank and prevented blood reaching hospitals like Al-Ahly.

The Herald: A man reacts as he carries a toddler into the Al-Shifa Hospital following the bombing by the

“We didn’t have any blood to give to the wounded, we were having to do amputations to save lives because you couldn’t transfuse patients. There were patients who died because we had no blood to give them.”

Dr Abu-Sittah is one of four candidates standing to be rector of his alma-mater, and is standing on a manifesto of opposition to the war in Gaza.

His campaign includes four key pledges: pressuring the University of Glasgow to condemn the war, to divest from the arms trade, to form links with universities in Palestine and to adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism rather than the IHRA definition.

According to the Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition, the university has more than £6.8m worth of investments in the arms industry, and has also received around £600,000 in research funding from BAE Systems and Rolls Royce since 2017.

Read More: After the Hague judgement on Israel and Gaza it's important to manage expectations

Dr Abu-Sittah says: "For me, my experience in Glasgow was a very formative one.

“The life choices that I made and the career choices that I made to pursue a parallel career in war surgery was built out of that experience and that side of Glasgow that is extremely internationalist.

“When I got to University of Glasgow, Winnie Mandela was the rector, there were solidarity groups with El Salvador and Nicaragua, we set up a scholarship for the Sabra and Shatila massacre victims.

“The Glasgow that I knew is the Glasgow that is an internationalist city whose people have always been at the front not just of the apartheid movement but all acts of solidarity with people across the globe.

The Herald:

“When the students asked me, for me that is the soul of the place that I want to be able to fight to keep. One that is not part of the arms trade, which fights against student poverty, which fights against the fossil industry, which is a safe place without gender-based violence.

"The corporatisation of universities is killing universities, it almost destroyed a generation when the universities were locked in an industrial dispute with lecturers.

"The International Court of Justice ruled that there was a plausible case for genocide, any arms manufacturer – and BAE Systems is one of them – that sells and provides weapons to Israel is now complicit. That’s not a political statement, it’s a legal statement from the highest court in international law.

“If you are selling arms to Israel, which BAE Systems with the help of the British government through trade licences is, you are complicit.

“As a shareholder in BAE Systems you’re complicit, you are benefitting from blood money. 13,000 Palestinian children have been killed and some of them have been killed by these weapons or parts.

“That money is blood money. It’s fine to talk about blood diamonds because we’re talking about some poor African militiamen who make their money from blood diamonds – but this is blood money, blood technology.

"Glasgow University medical school has been instrumental in changing the face of medicine in the 20th and 21st Century, for this place to also be instrumental in the death of 13,000 children, over 30,000 women, men and children, over 100,000 between killed and wounded, to be the beneficiary of blood money – it betrays the very essence of what Glasgow University stands for and what Glasgow as a city stands for.

“Glasgow, as a city, stood up to Margaret Thatcher. The University of Glasgow voted for Winnie Mandela in the 80s, in the darkest moments of apartheid when it had the complete support of the British government and the US government.

“Glasgow University took a principled stand then, and I think for this new generation Palestine is the anti-apartheid struggle.

“The students will again make the Glasgow that they know and I’ve known, and which shaped my identity, come to the forefront.

"I have a depth of gratitude which I need to pay back to a place that I feel helped shape my choices in life.

“I have extremely strong bonds and good memories with the University of Glasgow and I think it’s worth fighting for.”