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UN expert urges end of Israel 'unrelenting war' on Gaza health care system

December 7, 2023 at 1:48 pm

Palestinians displaced due to Israeli attacks take refuge in Nasser Hospital as the attacks continue in Khan Yunis, Gaza on December 03, 2023 [Abed Zagout – Anadolu Agency]

A UN expert, on Thursday, urged an end to Israel’s “unrelenting war” on the health care system in Gaza, calling it “darkest time for the right to health in our lifetimes”, Anadolu Agency reports.

On the airstrikes that hit hospitals in recent weeks, Tlaleng Mofokeng, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, said in a statement that Israeli forces reportedly hit the vicinity of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza several times this week alone.

“The practice of medicine is under attack,” said Mofokeng.

As a practicing medical doctor, I cannot fathom what my Gazan colleagues are enduring. They are working while their colleagues and loved ones are under attack. Many have been killed while treating their patients

Since 7 October, at least 364 attacks on health services have been recorded in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, resulting in over 550 deaths and nearly 730 injuries, according to the statement. Additionally, over 50 health facilities and 190 ambulances have been impacted.

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Under the rules of war, civilian facilities, such as hospitals, are off-limits from attacks. Israel has claimed the Palestinian Resistance group, Hamas, is using hospitals as bases, but has not produced any convincing evidence of that claim.

The statement said that a number of health workers have also been arrested, detained or injured, including the Director-General of Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, who was arrested on 23 November and is still missing.

It added that Al-Indonesia Hospital has been hit by 35 bombing raids since 28 October.

“The healthcare infrastructure in the Gaza Strip has been completely obliterated,” the Special Rapporteur said. “We are in the darkest time for the right to health in our lifetimes.”

She decried “immeasurable” violations of special protections granted to civilians, children and medical personnel under international humanitarian law, as well as widespread breaches of international human rights law.

Underscoring the need to prevent conflict and address root causes, she reiterated her call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory.

We bear witness to a shameful war on healthcare workers. This war is raging because of a lack of political leadership

she said. “End the war on Gaza, and end it now.”

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