Monday, December 4, 2023

Human Rights Watch says Israel targeting Gaza hospitals ‘unlawful’, calls for war crimes probe

Human Rights Watch has called for Israel’s “repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport” in the Gaza Strip to be investigated as war crimes. Hospitals in the Gaza Strip desperately need medicines, medical equipment and fuel for power generators.

In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation rejected Israel’s claim that hospitals are legitimate military targets because they house Hamas fighters, adding that even if true Israel has failed to demonstrate that that the attacks are proportionate or follow international laws of war.

“No evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law,” Human Rights Watch announced.

“The Israeli government should immediately end unlawful attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and other civilian objects, as well as its total blockade of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to the war crime of collective punishment,” it stressed.

According to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tonnes of explosives on the Gaza Strip since October 7 – equivalent to two nuclear bombs.

Shelling, gunshots and explosions took place outside Gaza City hospitals in recent days as Israeli soldiers continued their ground operation in the besieged enclave.

Social media videos and photos showed panicked and injured people running for cover.

The Red Cross warned that hospitals in Gaza had “reached a point of no return”. It added that its staff attempting to deliver medical supplies had witnessed “horrendous” scenes, and described the destruction as “unbearable”.

All but one of the hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip are out of service due to the lack of power and medical supplies, according to the health ministry.

All the operating hospitals in the Gaza Strip will stop their activities if no aid is received by medical institutions in the near time, the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

“If no aid comes, the work of all hospitals in the Gaza Strip will be suspended within the next 48 hours,” a ministry’s spokesperson stated.

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