Hospitals Attacked as Gaza’s health and humanitarian crisis worsens

On Saturday 10th January, a church run clinic funded by Christian Aid, was given 15 minutes to evacuate before missiles it turned into rubble.

AP

Photo credit: AP

The latest blow in the worsening humanitarian and health crisis in Gaza is the attack on hospitals. The latest hospitals to be attacked are the Al Wafa and Al Fata Hospitals, and the Al Quds which is run by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society were.

Sixteen health facilities, including hospitals and clinics, have been damaged by shelling and fighting during the 3-week-old Israeli offensive, said Tony Laurance, head of the World Health Organization office in Gaza.

“These latest attacks on hospitals in Gaza are an outrage and have put at risk the lives of patients and staff and prevented access to health care for a system that is already coping with a flood of seriously wounded people,” Laurance said.

The World Food Programme has reported an acute shortage of food in the Gaza Strip. Gazans said farmers were afraid to go to their fields to collect produce, while the Israeli military’s ground troops, which were still present in Gaza, were dividing the enclave into sections and preventing transport between different areas, making it difficult to transport fresh goods from agricultural areas to the urban centers.

Many groups including International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the EU and Switzerland condemned the violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza, as civilians have been targeted and attacked, humanitarian assistance blocked and health centers shelled.

Last week Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and a former ICC judge, called for independent investigations into possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza. She told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council that Israel and Palestinian militants had an obligation under international law to care for the wounded, and protect ambulances, hospitals and health workers.

The violence in Gaza has continued despite Friday’s UN resolution calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza as well as unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance. The UN General Assembly (GA), on Friday 16 January, concluded a two-day emergency special session by sending a strong message to the world demanding an immediate end to the Gaza conflict.

The United Nations reports more than one thousand Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,000 wounded since the Israeli offensive (Operation Cast Lead), launched on 27 December with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.

UNICEF estimates that 300 children have been killed and that 840,000 children in Gaza are under extreme stress, traumatized by the violent events of the past few weeks. UNICEF warns of long-lasting psychological consequences for thousands of children caught up in the Israeli- Hamas conflict in Gaza.

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