Medics in Gaza accuse Israel of targeting ambulances and healthcare facilities
10/19/2023 // Cassie B. // Views

Medics in the Gaza Strip have been accusing Israel of targeting their ambulances and hospitals as it continues its efforts to take out terrorist operations in the area.

Tala Taha, a paramedic, said he was lightly injured and three of his colleagues died in an air attack in Gaza. He believes they were deliberately targeted, saying: “Our mission is humanitarian, we provide humanitarian service only, and we were targeted without any reason, without any excuse.”

Other medical organizations operating in Gaza have accused Israel of purposely bombing their facilities and ambulances in a blatant breach of humanitarian law.

On Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health claimed that Israeli forces were targeting medical personnel and damaged 15 health facilities and 23 ambulances in air strikes. The ministry posted a video to its Facebook page showing an ambulance being rocked by an explosion while trying to get away from chaos. The person recording the footage can be seen jumping inside the ambulance while explosions can be heard in the background. As an explosion rocks the ambulance, a young girl inside the vehicle can be heard screaming in panic.

The source of the explosion and whether the ambulance was deliberately targeted is unclear. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement: "The Israeli violations against medical personnel, health institutions and ambulance units are a blatant attack on the laws, conventions and international norms that stipulate the protection of medical personnel and their facilities during times of conflicts and wars."

Some of the health institutions that have been hit include the International Eye Center, the Ministry of Health building and the Rimal Clinic.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders reports that 16 medical personnel have been killed, eight medical facilities have sustained damage and 18 ambulances have been destroyed. A medical coordinator for the group has said that they have been trying to use private vehicles to transfer people to hospitals to avoid attracting attention.

Gaza cannot afford to lose more healthcare facilities or personnel

Whether they are being targeted or not, Gaza cannot afford to lose any of its healthcare facilities or personnel for any reason at a time when they are already struggling to treat people amid the ongoing war and siege.

At Shifa Hospital, the biggest hospital in Gaza, bodies are coming in faster than they can be claimed by relatives, and medics report that they have run out of places to keep the remains of people. Their morgue, which can only handle around 30 bodies at once, is overflowing, and corpses have been stacked outside the walk-in cooler, with some being placed in the parking lot.

A nurse working there, Abu Elias Shobaki, described the parking lot morgue to the AP, saying: “The body bags started and just kept coming and coming and now it’s a graveyard. I am emotionally, physically exhausted. I just have to stop myself from thinking about how much worse it will get.”

Making matters worse is the lack of fuel resulting from the total blockade Israel has placed on the Gaza Strip out of concerns that Hamas will use it for operating generators in its underground tunnel complexes and continuing their efforts to kill Israelis rather than helping the Gazan people.

As a result, fuel reserves are about to run out in Gaza, with UN officials warning that the generators supplying hospitals with power have around 24 hours of fuel left. When those generators shut down, it could put thousands of patients in danger.

Unfortunately, Hamas often uses healthcare facilities as shields. For example, Hamas is widely believed to have a major headquarters beneath Shifa Hospital, using the hospital as a shield and taking advantage of the fact that international humanitarian law expressly forbids targeting healthcare facilities. This puts all of the hospital’s patients and staff at great risk, and it’s a common practice by Hamas that likely extends to other healthcare facilities as well.

Now, with Israel preparing for a potential ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants murdered more than a thousand Israelis and kidnapped hundreds more, the situation in Gaza is only expected to get worse.

Sources for this article include:

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