Israel's attacks on hospitals, ambulances, aid workers, and other medical facilities must be "investigated as war crimes," according to internationally recognized nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch.
On Monday, HRW called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel's attacks on Gaza's healthcare system. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 521 people, including 16 medical workers, have been killed in 137 “attacks on health care” in Gaza as of Sunday. The HRW noted that two-thirds of Gaza's primary care facilities and half of all hospitals are out of service.
“Israel’s repeated attacks damaging hospitals and harming healthcare workers, already hard hit by an unlawful blockade, have devastated Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure,” A. Kayum Ahmed, special adviser on the right to health at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “The strikes on hospitals have killed hundreds of people and put many patients at grave risk because they’re unable to receive proper medical care.”
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Gaza has been under a blockade by Israel since 2005, but since Oct. 7, Israel has cut off Gaza's access to food, water, fuel, electricity, and telecommunicationsagainst international law. Israel has also refused to let in emergency fuel, making hospitals unable to care for the over 1,000 patients receiving kidney dialysis treatment in Gaza, as well as 130 premature babies in incubators, several of whom have already died not from their condition, but from lack of proper resources.
Gaza's two largest hospitals, as well as every hospital in Gaza City, have been forced to stop taking patients after being surrounded by Israeli forces. Al-Shifa and Al-Quds, Gaza’s biggest hospitals, suspended operations on Sunday, according to the World Health Organization.
Israel has defended their airstrikes on hospitals with unverified claims that Hamas is using healthcare facilities as bases, but HRW noted that "no evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law." It noted that the ICC’s Rome Statute prohibits, as a war crime, “intentionally directing attacks against … medical units and transport.”
“Israel’s broad-based attack on Gaza’s healthcare system is an attack on the sick and the injured, on babies in incubators, on pregnant people, on cancer patients,” Ahmed said. “These actions need to be investigated as war crimes.”
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