Gaza medics say Israel targeting ambulances, health facilities | Gaza News

by Aditya Kumar

Talal Taha and his team at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City have been at the forefront of the emergency response in the besieged enclave. As the largest hospital in Gaza City, al-Shifa has been overwhelmed by the devastating attacks by Israel during the ongoing conflict. Taha and his team received an emergency call on Saturday evening and immediately responded, only to be targeted by an air attack themselves. Three of his colleagues were killed and Taha was lightly injured. This incident is just one example of the deliberate targeting of medical personnel and facilities by Israel, according to health authorities and medical organizations in Gaza.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has condemned the intentional targeting of medical teams and called for accountability and justice for the victims. The health ministry in Gaza has also denounced the direct and systematic attacks on ambulances, stating that they are in violation of international laws that protect health facilities and services in armed conflict zones.

The numbers paint a grim picture of the extent of the damage caused by Israeli attacks. At least 1,200 people have been killed in Gaza since hostilities began, including hundreds of children and women. More than 5,600 citizens have been wounded. Fifteen ambulances and nine health institutions have been hit, including the Ministry of Health building, the Rimal Clinic, and the International Eye Center. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has reported 16 medical personnel killed, 18 ambulances destroyed, and eight medical facilities damaged.

Sohaib Safi, the medical coordinator for MSF in Gaza, stated that the scale of the damage is clear evidence that medical aid is intentionally being attacked by Israeli forces. Safi mentioned that when ambulances try to reach areas under fire, they are targeted as a message to prevent the evacuation of the injured or trapped. As a result, taxis and private cars have taken up the task of transferring the wounded to hospitals to avoid attracting attention.

Israel has claimed that it warns civilians to evacuate buildings before striking them, but on the ground, many Palestinians have been hit without any warning. The Israeli army has also indicated its intention to stage a ground invasion. Despite the risks, al-Shifa Hospital has not only been treating patients but has also become a refuge for frightened Gaza City residents. The neonatal unit has already been partially damaged due to the bombardments around the hospital.

Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a surgeon at al-Shifa Hospital, described the situation as desperate. The hospitals are full and running low on supplies. Abu-Sittah mentioned a case where a young girl with indescribable facial injuries arrived, accompanied by her mother, who was killed when their home was targeted. The collapsing health system is unable to cope with the overwhelming number of injured patients.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has already used half of its emergency provisions, which are scheduled to last two months during times of crisis. Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has announced a full blockade of Gaza, including a ban on food, electricity, and fuel. Hospitals, dependent on fuel for power, estimated that their supplies could last three to four days at most.

The acute shortage of medicines and medical equipment is having severe repercussions on the most vulnerable patients. The Ministry of Health estimates that 9,000 cancer patients in Gaza are in need of treatment. Blood for transfusions, essential medicines, and desalinated water are also urgently required across the Strip.

Mahmoud Shalabi, senior program manager for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) in Gaza, expressed grave concern about the potential tightening blockade and a ground invasion, stating that it could lead to the worst humanitarian catastrophe Palestinians have seen since 1948. The situation in Gaza is dire, and urgent action is needed to protect the lives of innocent civilians and ensure access to medical assistance.

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