A hospital in Gaza has become one of the biggest casualties of the conflict between Israel and the Hamas group, leading to loud and global condemnation from international health and humanitarian organisations.
“The ongoing siege has caused Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) to suspend its coordination of humanitarian operations in Gaza. We are not managing medical activities at this stage. However, some of our Palestinian colleagues are still working in hospitals north and south of Gaza”, said Sana Bég, Director of Communications, MSF South Asia.
Following the hospital bombing on Tuesday, MSF said, “We are horrified by the recent bombing of Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, which was treating patients and hosting displaced Gazans. Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed.”
“We were operating in the hospital, there was a strong explosion, and the ceiling fell on the operating room. This is a massacre,” the statement quoted Ghassan Abu Sittah, MSF doctor in Gaza.
“Nothing justifies this shocking attack on a hospital and its many patients and health workers, as well as the people who sought shelter there. Hospitals are not a target. This bloodshed must stop. Enough is enough,” the statement said.
Citing authorities, foreign media reports estimated the death toll at nearly 500.
MSF International President Christos Christou called for the restoration of “unconditional humanity”.
“Hospitals are running out of electricity and medical supplies,” he said, adding “for us and all medical staff in Gaza to work, we need basic guarantees of safety.” Having been in the region since 1989, MSF has medical humanitarian operations in Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and Gaza.
Reverse evacuation orders
Previously, the World Health Organization had also condemned the attack on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, north of the Gaza Strip.
“The hospital was operational, with patients, health and care givers, and internally displaced people sheltering there. Early reports indicate hundreds of fatalities and injuries,” it said.
The hospital was one of 20 in the said region.
“The order for evacuation has been impossible to carry out given the current insecurity, critical condition of many patients, and lack of ambulances, staff, health system bed capacity, and alternative shelter for those displaced,” the note said.
Calling for the protection of civilians and health care, it said, “Evacuation orders must be reversed. International humanitarian law must be abided by, which means health care must be actively protected and never targeted,” it added.