For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Palestinian fighters in Gaza to cease military actions that result in unacceptably high civilian casualties and to halt procedures and practices that seriously endanger the lives and wellbeing of civilians in Israel and Gaza.
During the past two weeks since a five-month old ceasefire unraveled, hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands injured, and both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen have fired on civilians. The IDF has destroyed or damaged homes, hospitals, schools and places of worship. Infrastructure vital to survival in Gaza has been seriously compromised by Israeli attacks. PHR also condemned the use of civilian locations to stage or target attacks, allegations leveled at both sides in the current conflict between Hamas fighters and the IDF.
PHR also issued an urgent appeal to Israeli authorities and Hamas to facilitate unfettered access to humanitarian assistance and medical care. Eighty percent of Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants are dependent on UN food aid. Daily reports from hospitals and health workers in Gaza indicate shortages in medical supplies and personnel, cut-offs in water supply, and damage to the power grid – all threatening emergency medical response as well as care for acute and chronically ill patients. PHR called on the governments of Israel and Egypt to assure safe and rapid transfer of gravely wounded victims to hospitals in their countries for specialized care and urged Israel to enable the safe evacuation of Palestinian injured trapped in the midst of the fighting. PHR also called on all parties to the conflict to respect medical neutrality, including the obligations under the Geneva Conventions to protect hospitals, medical personnel and ambulances from attack.
PHR has received recent reports from medical colleagues and human rights organizations in Israel that among other violations, a clearly marked Red Cross supply truck, pre-coordinated with the IDF for transport, was nonetheless fired on by Israeli tanks and that the A-Raeiya Medical Center and clinics, far from military or government installations in Gaza, were attacked from the air by Israel causing $800,000 worth of damage and preventing care for hundreds of Gaza residents.
PHR noted that military violence in as densely populated a location as Gaza inevitably will cause extensive civilian casualties, and the organization appealed to both parties to this conflict to negotiate an immediate ceasefire on humanitarian and human rights grounds. PHR CEO Frank Donaghue stated today, "The parties to this horrific conflict are choking an entire population–threatening access to food, shelter, medical care, and creating daily terror and insecurity. No military objectives can justify this."
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.