Creating new perspectives since 2009

French doctor describes Gaza's humanitarian crisis, urges ceasefire amid Israeli 'genocide'

February 15, 2024 at 7:47 pm

Ali Tafesh, a 14-year-old Palestinian who lost his limbs, is being treated at 141-year-old Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza on February 13, 2024. [Omar Qattaa – Anadolu Agency]

French doctor Khaled Benboutrif recounted the dire circumstances he witnessed during a two-week mission to the European Hospital in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, Anadolu Agency reports.

He cited the ongoing “genocide” amid relentless Israeli attacks and a blockade on the besieged enclave.

Benboutrif, an emergency room physician, emphasized the challenges faced at the hospital, the only standing facility among the 13 health institutions in Gaza, amid reports of targeted attacks on hospitals and doctors by the Israeli army.

A team of 21 healthcare personnel, including seven French members, travelled to Gaza at the end of January and served in three hospitals.

After their return on Feb. 6, Benboutrif recounted to Anadolu the events he witnessed.

They witnessed victims being killed, beaten, humiliated and deprived of their property, Benboutrif said. “Genocide continues in Gaza.”

Israel’s “genocide” against Palestinians in the region started on 7 October 2023, he said.

He went to the region through the Palmed Association of Palestinian Doctors in Europe and emphasized the challenging field he served in and expressed that Gazans were pleased to see the delegation.

Benboutrif said hospitals are protected areas, according to international agreements, and that Gazans reported to the delegation that the army was targeting hospitals and doctors.

READ: Israel raids main Gaza hospital as Rafah concerns grow

He emphasized the difficulty in delivering medical supplies through the Rafah border crossing due to long convoys.

“There are convoys kilometres long when we reach the Rafah border crossing, and they are not allowed to pass, half of which consists of food supplies,” he said.

Commenting on the shortage of space and cleanliness at the hospital, Benboutrif said: “There are so many people that we cannot clean. There is dust. Meals are eaten, cooked and games are played in the hospital. It is not a hospital anymore.”

Gazans have displayed remarkable resilience, despite immense suffering, said Benboutrif.

He pointed out the presence of 25,000 people living near the hospital, noting that residents gather inside, outside and around the building, making it difficult for staff to perform their duties.

Benboutrif detailed the constant surveillance by Israeli drones and the use of warplanes, alongside frequent nearby gunfire, indicating the conflict.

He recounted the hospital’s vulnerability to bombings, including a tragic incident where a 16-year-old was fatally struck by bomb fragments.

He highlighted the dire situation where many wounded victims perished en route to the hospital, emphasizing the indiscriminate targeting of Gazans, including women and children.

Benboutrif warned of an impending disaster in Gaza, citing outbreaks of infectious diseases and famine exacerbated by medical facilities that are destroyed.

He urged a ceasefire and denounced violence against civilians, and stressed the need to halt arms supplies to Israel.

READ: $20bn cost of Gaza post-war reconstruction, UN trade body says