Sat 25-May-2024

Gaza Hospitals: Civilian targets attacked by the Israeli army

Tuesday 14-May-2024


Hospitals have become one of the primary targets in the war of extermination waged by the Israeli occupation army on the Gaza Strip for the past seven months. Dozens of hospitals and health centers have been attacked, their contents destroyed, and most have been put out of service. The occupation forces have targeted medical staff, patients, and displaced people residing in these facilities, leaving hundreds of them between martyrs, wounded, displaced, and prisoners.

Since the beginning of the war, the occupation forces have declared their intention to target hospitals, alleging their use by the resistance as military centers, a claim that the occupation failed to prove, and one that local and international health organizations denied.

According to the United Nations, the Israeli aggression has led to the destruction of the healthcare system in Gaza. Two-thirds of hospitals and health centers have ceased to operate, and many of the remaining ones have suffered significant damage.

According to media reports, the occupation forces targeted 36 hospitals and nearly 160 healthcare centers in the Gaza Strip since October 7 of last year.

Systematic targeting

At the beginning of the war, the occupation army’s targeting of hospitals included cutting off water and electricity, in addition to preventing the arrival of medicine or fuel, leading to the worsening of the health situation for patients and the wounded, resulting in many deaths, especially among malnourished children, intensive care patients, and those with heart and kidney diseases, whose lives depend on the availability of energy sources that the occupation army prevented.

As the aggressive war on the Strip continued, the occupation forces intensified their attacks on hospitals through sieges, bombings, detonations, and raids, even committing mass massacres within them. The bombing of the Baptist Hospital on the night of October 17th, which killed around 500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, who had sought refuge there, was a harbinger of subsequent attacks and occupation of medical complexes. This was part of the “hospital war” strategy adopted by the occupation forces in their aggression on Gaza Strip.

A month after the Baptist Hospital tragedy, the occupation forces tightened their siege on the Al-Shifa Medical Complex, claiming that the resistance was using it for military operations and holding hostages. On November 15th, Israeli occupation soldiers stormed the Al-Shifa hospital, terrorizing displaced people, patients, and medical staff. They fired shots inside buildings and between patients’ beds forcing young men aged 16 and above to undress in the outdoor courtyard.

Continuing its approach of targeting hospitals, the occupation forces besieged the Nasser Medical Complex and Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis, south of the enclave, on January 21, paving the way for their invasion.

Mass graves

The occupation army returned to Al-Shifa hospital or what remained of it on the morning of March 18th, launching a sudden military operation after targeting the surrounding neighborhoods and destroying more than a thousand homes nearby, according to the Governmental Media Office in the Strip. The occupation forces also arrested medical teams and displaced persons for days, subjecting them to interrogation and torture, according to survivors’ testimonies.

In parallel with the attack on Shifa to the north, and after a siege lasting nearly two months, the occupation forces stormed the Nasser Medical Complex and Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis in the south on March 24, adopting the same intimidation policy, including executions, gunfire, and tormenting the injured and displaced.

Recently, the occupation forces withdrew from the hospitals they had invaded and ravaged, revealing the atrocities committed against doctors, patients, and displaced people. Civil defense teams began uncovering mass graves in hospital courtyards.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described some Gaza hospitals as “resembling cemeteries,” highlighting the mass graves discovered at Al-Shifa and Nasser medical complexes, where hundreds of bodies were found. Guterres emphasized the urgent need for independent international investigators with forensic expertise to immediately access these mass grave sites and investigate the circumstances under which hundreds of Palestinians lost their lives and were buried.

Collapse of the healthcare system

The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Monday the collapse of the healthcare system in most Gaza Strip hospitals due to the continued Israeli occupation blockade, which has prevented the flow of fuel, medicines, and medical supplies. The ministry noted that 30 hospitals had completely shut down due to the exhaustion of fuel and medicines. Israeli forces forced medical teams to evacuate the Specialized Kuwaiti and Abu Yousef Al-Najjar hospitals in Rafah, which are under constant bombardment from occupation aircraft and artillery.

Nevertheless, doctors, nurses, and medical teams continue their work, trying with the available resources to fulfill their duty towards their patients and the wounded among their people, and their message is clear: “We are steadfast.”

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