Since February, the Israeli-Arab doctor Khitam Hussein has woken up every morning before dawn to head to the front line of the country's fight against the novel corona virus.
The 44-year-old Hussein has become a prominent member of Israel's often marginalized Arab community, which is now playing an essential role in overcoming an unprecedented health crisis.
She has been leading the outbreak at Rambam Hospital near Haifa, the largest hospital in northern Israel, and has been working 12-hour days for months.
"It is incredibly difficult to work, no two days are the same," she told AFP.
"Our lives have been turned upside down."
Israel has registered more than 15,000 cases of COVID-19 with 202 deaths.
Hussein said that in the midst of the global pandemic, individual moments with patients have created lasting memories.
She remembered an elderly couple who arrived at the hospital and were both seriously ill with the virus.
When the man's condition deteriorated rapidly, they allowed the couple one last moment together.
"Despite her condition, we allowed his sick wife to speak to her husband – to say goodbye," she said. The husband died shortly afterwards.
"It is difficult as a human being, the entire medical staff was sad."
Israeli Arabs are descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land in 1948, the year the Jewish state declared independence.
They make up around 20 percent of the population and are strongly represented in the medical profession.
In 2018, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed parliament for a controversial law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.
It sparked rage among Israeli Arabs and other minorities who saw it as a denial of their right to live in the country.
The health crisis has revived the debate, and medical professionals at the forefront have highlighted the role of Arabs in Israeli society.
Famous Israeli artists have run online fundraisers for the Rambam Hospital, holding it up as a symbol of Arab-Jewish coexistence.
Hussein has been personally highlighted several times.
Yair Lapid, leader of the largest opposition party in the Israeli parliament and critic of national law, said Netanyahu has consistently ignored the contribution of Arab physicians.
"If … you're an Arab doctor or nurse in a hospital who hasn't been eyeing for weeks, you should know that they won't change national law," Lapid said in a recent tweet.
Netanyahu, a right-wing Prime Minister since 2009, is currently forming a coalition government with his centrist election rival Benny Gantz, a former ally of the Lapid.
Lapid broke off with Gantz when the ex-military chief decided to seek an alliance with Netanyahu.
Tear a line
For Hussein, it's all about saving lives – whether a patient is Arabic or Jewish.
She was born in the northeastern city of Rameh and now lives in the city of Karmiel in Galilee.
The coronavirus crisis put a heavy strain on her family life, she said.
She has not visited her aging mother for almost two months for fear of transmitting the virus.
Her husband, a lawyer, is at home with her two daughters, aged eight and ten.
Hussein said it was the most difficult to be separated from the girls, knowing how quickly they would grow up.
If she comes home after a long shift, she immediately puts her clothes in the laundry and takes a shower before seeing her daughters.
"I arrive late most of the time when they're already asleep, but sometimes they wait for me."
Some of her colleagues no longer go home at all due to the long hours or fear of infecting family members.
"I stopped seeing my parents, but I couldn't stop seeing my daughters," said Hussein.
"I can't describe how I miss her."
Recently, her younger daughter called Hala while she was in the middle of a hectic shift.
"She cried on the phone and said & # 39; I miss you, when are you coming home? & # 39;"
"For a few minutes, I thought I was going to collapse. Then I gathered myself and went back to work."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)