Fulfil Peace Mandate, not Issue Half-Hearted Calls, to Stop Israeli Assault: MSF to UNSC
MSF International president Dr Christos Christou. Image Courtesy: Twitter/@DrChristou
Since the fragile Gaza truce collapsed on December 1, Israeli aerial and ground attacks have killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians. Al-Aqsa and Nasser hospitals, supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Palestinian and international staff, are barely able to cope with the influx of patients.
Palestinians in some neighbourhoods in the Gaza Strip’s middle area and Khan Younis have been ordered to evacuate further south towards Rafah, along the Egyptian border.
MSF International president Dr Christos Christou has implored the UNSC “to do everything” within its “power to ensure an immediate and sustained ceasefire”.
In a letter addressed to the UNSC on Monday, Christou wrote: “You must demand that the Israeli government stop the deadly attacks on Palestinian civilians and allow crucial humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.”
The seven-day truce wasn’t “enough to organise the delivery of sufficient aid and essential supplies to meet the immeasurable needs”.
Christou alleged that world leaders, including UNSC permanent members, have been “complicit” either by “providing Israel with diplomatic cover, supplying Israel with seemingly unconditional military assistance or by failing to help stem the relentless bloodshed and atrocities being committed in Gaza”.
He demanded that the UNSC “fulfil its international peace and security mandate and exercise its full diplomatic leverage to convince the State of Israel that the death sentence it has handed the people of Gaza is inhumane, indefensible, and cannot continue to be carried out” and stop “issuing half-hearted calls for the respect of international law and the protection of civilians”
“We urge you to take action to uphold our shared humanity.”
He mentioned the words MSF Dr Mahmoud Abu Nujaila, who wrote “We did what we could. Remember us” on a Gaza hospital whiteboard normally used for planning surgeries before being killed in a hospital strike.
“We did what we could. Remember us.”
When the guns fall silent and the true scale of devastation is revealed, will the @UN Security Council and its members be able to say the same?
— Christos Christou (@DrChristou) December 4, 2023
“When the guns fall silent and the true scale of devastation is revealed, will the Council and its members be able to say the same?” Christou asked the UNSC.
Condemning the Hamas attack, he wrote: “My colleagues and I, like so many people around the world, were distressed and shocked by Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians.”
However, “words fail us to describe the absolute horror being inflicted on Palestinian civilians by Israel as it carries out incessant and indiscriminate warfare in Gaza for all the world to see”, he wrote.
“Israel’s all-out assault is not being waged just on Hamas. It is being waged on all of Gaza and its people at any cost. Even wars have rules, but Israel is clearly trading them in for its own military strategy based on disproportionality.”
Pointing to Israel’s “blatant and total disregard for the protection of Gaza’s medical facilities”, Christou wrote: “We are watching as hospitals are turned into morgues and ruins. These supposedly protected facilities are being bombed, are being shot at by tanks and guns, encircled and raided, killing patients and medical staff.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has documented 203 attacks on healthcare that have led to, at least, 22 fatalities and 59 injuries of health workers on duty, he added.
Describing the pain experienced by wounded children, he wrote: “Medical staff, including our own, are utterly exhausted and in despair. They have had to amputate limbs from children suffering from severe burns without anaesthesia or sterilised surgical tools.”
Some doctors faced the “unimaginable choice” between their lives or those of their patients after forced evacuation by Israeli soldiers.
“There is no justification for the atrocious attacks on healthcare. Words fail us to describe the absolute horror being inflicted on Palestinian civilians by Israel as it carries out incessant and indiscriminate warfare in Gaza for all the world to see.”
MSF recently sent an international emergency team to Gaza to support its Palestinian colleagues in providing medical and surgical capacities.
“Regrettably, their activities have been severely limited due to the scale of casualties, destruction of infrastructure, lack of essential supplies such as fuel and the ongoing insecurity. We want and ought to be able to do so much more,” he wrote adding that it’s “impossible for us to adequately respond to medical needs in Gaza due to the siege and the unrelenting, generalised warfare being unleashed by Israel”.
“Four of our MSF staff have been killed; many more have lost family members. Numerous other colleagues have been injured. Other humanitarian organisations have reported dozens of their staff have been killed.”
Christou described the “complete siege” of Gaza, including the ban on water, food, fuel and medicinal supplies, as a collective punishment, which “is a war crime under International Humanitarian Law”.
“We are witnessing the fundamental principle of humanity being openly disgraced.”
Mentioning the situation in northern Gaza, he wrote that it is “being erased from the map”.
“The health system has collapsed. More than 15,500 people have been killed, half of whom are children, according to Gaza’s health authorities. That’s one out of every 200 people in Gaza. Tens of thousands of people have been injured. Families are digging their dead loved ones out from under the rubble.”
The 1.8 million displaced are “being repeatedly and forcibly ordered to move further and further south, but Israel is bombing the entire Strip. Nowhere is safe”.
In #Gaza, civilians are being repeatedly and forcibly ordered to move further and further south, but Israel is bombing the entire Strip. Nowhere is safe.
— Christos Christou (@DrChristou) December 5, 2023
In Khan Younis, southern Gaza, the MSF emergency team s reported a massive influx of wounded after intense bombing.
“Last Saturday, 60 dead and 213 injured people arrived at the emergency room of Al-Aqsa hospital. These strikes are also hitting overcrowded, squalid refugee camps, where people are barely surviving on the sparse humanitarian aid available. If the bombs do not get them, infectious diseases and starvation will,” he wrote.
Calling for a sustained ceasefire as the “only way to stop the killing of thousands of more civilians and allow for the scaled-up delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid”, he also called for the establishment of an independent mechanism to oversee the adequate flow of humanitarian supplies into Gaza.
Furthermore, the MSF called for the implementation of secure and long-lasting medical evacuation routes to third countries for people suffering from severe injuries.
“In the short-term, the evacuation of these patients to Egypt through the Rafah crossing could be an option, and MSF is willing to contribute to scaling up necessary medical capacities,” he wrote.
“Indiscriminate and relentless attacks must stop now. Forcible displacement must stop now. Assaults on hospitals and medical staff must stop now. Restrictions on aid and the siege must stop now. It must ALL STOP NOW,” Christou wrote and called on the UNSC “to be part of the solution and exert all means in your power to prevent further carnage”.
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