Gaza Ministry of Health, Palestine
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Ministry of Health Gaza expresses its horror and outrage at the latest Israeli massacre moments ago at an UNRWA school sheltering displaced persons in Beit Hanoun. Ten people have been killed and there is a large number of wounded.
This follows hard on the heels of yesterday’s massacre in the governate of Khan Younis.
In the farming village of Khuza’a at least 25 civilians are believed dead and 16 wounded. Two thirds of the homes have been destroyed and 60 percent of the population has fled, while the rest are prevented from leaving by ongoing attacks and sniper fire.
Israeli tanks and Special Forces are currently surrounding emergency vehicles and ambulances seeking to retrieve the dead and wounded, and have seized some of the critically-wounded victims.
In the neighbouring villages of Abasan and Bani Suheila 17 people have been killed, and another seven in Al Qarara, including pharmacist Dr Ibrahim al Halaq.
Medical staffs are afraid to travel to their work, and risk death from the Israeli bombardments.
In the last 24 hours, Balsam Hospital in North Gaza was attacked for the second time.
Three hospitals have now been forced to evacuate their patients following Israeli strikes, causing overcrowding in other hospitals, such as Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which is struggling to cope.
Lack of essential medicines and medical supplies, already severely depleted prior to the Israeli offensive, have reached critical levels.
Medical staffs are exhausted, and there is an urgent need for foreign medical teams including intensivists, neurosurgeons, and anaesthetists to enter Gaza and assist.
The closure of the Rafah Crossing is preventing much-needed humanitarian aid from entering, and civilians fleeing the war zone from leaving.
We remind the international community and the Israeli occupation authorities that:
1. The targeting of civilians is prohibited under international humanitarian law, and constitutes a war crime;
2. Hospitals are protected under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law; destruction of these buildings and attacks on medical staff are war crimes;
3. Preventing the civilian population from leaving a war zone is a violation of international law.
We welcome the words of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who yesterday said there was “… a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes” when describing the Israeli attack on Al Aqsa hospital on Monday.
In light of this latest raft of human rights abuses by the Israeli military in Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, and ongoing attacks on medical facilities and personnel in other parts of Gaza, we demand that the United Nations and the international community:
- Take immediate and concrete action to bring a rapid end to the slaughter of Gazan civilians and the targeting of medical facilities and personnel;
- Prevail upon the Israeli occupation authorities to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law, and open the borders to enable medical assistance and teams to enter;
- Hold the Israeli occupation to account for its war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.
Dr Yousef AbuAlrish, Deputy Minister of Health +972 597 918 339
Dr Medhat Abbas, Director General, Ministry of Health +972 599 403 547