The human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) today denounced in a statement the “illegal” attacks by the Israeli Army against hospitals in the Gaza Strip and called for them to be investigated as “war crimes.” The organization warned that the Israeli attacks worsen the health crisis in Gaza, derived from the lack of fuel and medical supplies. “Despite the Israeli military’s claims on November 5, 2023, of ‘cynical use of hospitals by Hamas,’ no evidence presented would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law,” says HRW. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 521 people have died in attacks by the Israeli army against health centers, including 16 members of health personnel. “Attacks on hospitals have killed hundreds of people and have put many patients at serious risk because they cannot receive adequate medical care“says A.Kayum Ahmed, special advisor on health rights at HRW.
In recent hours, Israeli tanks have parked around the Al Shifa hospital, where Israel says the underground tunnels that house one of the main Hamas headquarters are located. Due to the siege of the health center and the lack of fuel to operate the machinery, 32 patients have died in the last few hours, three of them premature babies, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The center’s health personnel announced that they have buried 179 bodies in a common grave, including 29 patients who were in intensive care. US President Joe Biden warned that the Al Shifa hospital “must be protected” and called for “less intrusive action” by Israeli forces.
The situation is extreme not only in Al Shifa hospital. The health centers that remain operational have warned that they no longer have the capacity to admit new patients. Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, indicated that its aid operations in the territory will be suspended in the next 48 hours if fuel is not allowed to enter the Strip. The organization stated that due to a lack of fuel, they cannot provide help to hospitals, eliminate waste or make water drinkable.
In the last ten days around 200,000 Palestinians have moved to the southern Gaza Strip, following orders from the Israeli Army to empty the territory in the face of fighting against Hamas militants. The south of the territory is also not exempt from Israeli attacks and in the last 24 hours, a bombing in the city of Khan Younis caused 13 deaths.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said in a post on his Facebook account that he supports the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians to other countries that want to welcome them and noted that it is the “correct humanitarian solution.”