Since the Israeli military began its assault on the Gaza Strip on July 8th, Israeli forces have repeatedly targeted medics and medical centers who have been working feverishly to treat the over 9,000 people who have been wounded.Since July 8th, Medics and Rescue Teams have been attacked by Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling 102 times. 19 medics have been killed, and many more have been injured.
In addition, 44 Of Gaza’s 55 Urgent Care Centers have been closed Due To Israeli Bombardment. 17 Hospitals, both public and private, have been directly targeted by the Israeli military.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health has condemned the repeated attacks on medical workers and facilities, which are supposed to be excluded from any attacks during wartime under international law.
Attacks on medical facilities are considered to be a ‘grave breach’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which means it is considered a war crime. Another ‘grave breach’ is extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.
Israel is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, since 1957, but claims that this does not apply to Israel’s behavior in the territories it took over in 1967 and has been militarily occupying ever since.
The Israeli military spokesman has repeated over and over again the claim that Palestinian resistance fighters use hospitals to store and fire rockets, but has presented no credible evidence to back this claim.
The one piece of ‘evidence’ presented by the Israeli military involved the Al-Wafa Hospital in eastern Gaza, and it was proven to be a fabrication.
After bombing the al-Wafa Hospital, Gaza’s only rehabilitation center, to the ground, the Israeli military released a short video claiming to show the hospital being used by fighters. But the satellite video purporting to show rockets fired from the hospital grounds turned out, upon examination, to not show the hospital at all. An arrow added by the Israeli military before releasing the video pointed at a building next to a rocket-launching site. The building was labeled ‘Wafa Hospital’. But the building in the video was NOT Al-Wafa Hospital, but a building in an entirely different part of town.
But even while mis-identifying the hospital building on its satellite image presented to the media, the Israeli military obviously know where the ACTUAL hospital was located, because its bombs were dropped directly onto the hospital, leveling it to the ground.
The numerous attacks on medical facilities and ambulances have made it extremely difficult for medical personnel in Gaza to carry out their work. In addition, the bombing of Gaza’s only power plant on Monday by Israeli forces has forced the medical facilities to turn to backup power sources, which are intermittent and sparse. This has made it more and more difficult to maintain life support for the hundreds of patients that remain in critical condition from their wounds.
A correspondent for Agence France Presse based in Rafah reported Sunday, ‘With Rafah’s main Najjar hospital closed after being hit in a recent strike, only two clinics were functioning, with medics rapidly running out of space to store the growing pile of bodies.
‘In one, [the correspondent] witnessed the bodies of four small children packed into an ice cream freezer.
‘Outside in the garden, doctors had set up a temporary emergency room, receiving dozens of wounded, some of whom had to lie down on the ground because of a lack of beds.
‘There was only one working operating surgery, with the single bed occupied by two wounded people’, he said.