WHO warns relentless attacks on Gaza health care

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Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau
UNITED NATIONS, 9th Feb.
World Health Organization on Friday unveiled data indicated over 350 attacks on healthcare the war in Gaza hasn’t spared hospitals, their staff or the people sheltering there.

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that total of 645 people have died since 7 October and 818 were injured as a result of these incidents, his comments came after the allegations that a nurse was shot and critically injured while inside an operating theatre at a hospital in Khan Younis.

“These attacks have affected 98 healthcare facilities, including 27 hospitals damaged out of 36, and affected 90 ambulances, including 50 which sustained damage,” Mr. Jasarevic told.

OCHA in its latest update on the crisis reported more “intense fighting” in Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Thursday involving shelling and heavy gunfire. 

It cited UN partner the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, said that Nasser Hospital and Al Amal Hospital under siege for 17 days had continued to be particularly badly affected by the violence which

The OCHA update relayed reports from the Gazan health authority of continuing “allegations of sniper shooting in the vicinity of Nasser Hospital” and allegations that the Israeli military had prevented the movement of ambulances and access to the facility. 

“On 8 February, a nurse was reportedly shot and critically injured while inside the operations room in Nasser Hospital and two Palestinians were reportedly shot and killed in the vicinity,” the OCHA update said. “On 7 February, a Palestinian woman was reportedly shot and killed while purportedly fetching water from Nasser Hospital.”

WHO data highlighted the growing number of attacks on healthcare in the occupied West Bank.

Some 364 attacks on healthcare have happened in the West Bank, resulted in 10 fatalities and 62 injuries, Mr. Jasarevic said.

He noted that 44 health facilities had been affected, including 15 mobile clinics and 24 ambulances. 

The latest toll from the fighting in Gaza is at least 27,840 fatalities with more than 67,300 injured, according to the local health authority.

As of 8 February, 225 Israeli soldiers have been killed with 1,314 injured in Gaza since the beginning of the ground operation, according to the Israeli military.

UN humanitarians highlight that the risk of famine in Gaza is increasing “by the day”, particularly in northern Gaza.

OCHA asaid thousands of people there have been “predominantly cut off from assistance” despite the fact that this is where the greatest needs are, with many reportedly grinding animal feed to make flour

WFP has delivered 1,940 trucks 19 per cent of all aid trucks, it said carrying over 32,413 tons of lifesaving food supplies. 

UNRWA was able to carry out a food distribution in the north of Wadi Gaza was 23 January, OCHA’s update noted.

UN humanitarians reiterated deep concerns on Friday about any escalation of fighting in overcrowded Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip.

UN human rights offce insisted that any attempt by Israel to create a “buffer zone” with Gaza could constitute a war crime.

OHCHR spokesperson Marta Hurtado said “Article 53 of the Geneva Convention prohibits destruction by the occupying power of property belonging to private persons, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations”. 

“Destruction carried out to create a buffer zone for general security purposes do not appear consistent with the military operations.”

On Israeli counter-terrorism operation inside a West Bank hospital that left three Palestinian militants dead late last month, Ms. Hurtado noted that Israeli security forces had claimed that one of those targeted had a gun, “ a claim denied by hospital staff.

She said no exchange of fire was reported.

Marta Hurtado emphasized that under applicable international human rights law, firearms may only be used when strictly necessary to prevent an imminent threat to life or serious injury and is otherwise unlawful.

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