The director of the World Health Organization has said Israel’s attacks on hospitals in Gaza “totally unacceptable” and called for a ceasefire for aid to enter.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday Nov. 15 that he had met for a second time with the families of the Israeli hostages and was concerned for the health and well-being of the hostages.
He said the WHO continues to call for the hostages to be released unharmed.
He said he was also concerned for the health and well-being of the people of Gaza, which he said is “becoming more precarious every hour.”
He said that the WHO has not received any update about the number of deaths and injuries in Gaza for the last three days, and the only thing they know is that 26 out of 36 hospitals in Gaza are now closed due to damage, attacks or running out of fuel.
“There are many more patients than beds. Doctors and nurses are having to make impossible decisions on who lives, and who dies,” he said.
Ghebreyesus then condemned Israel’s raid of Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, on Wednesday, after it laid siege to the hospital for days.
Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa hospital, which it says is a command center for Hamas, for a second day on Thursday Nov. 16.
Once inside, the military damaged the specialised surgeries building, blew up a warehouse for medicine and medical equipment inside the hospital and blindfolded and interrogated about 200 people, including doctors, Al Jazeera reported.
“Israel’s military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City is totally unacceptable,” he said. “Hospitals are not battlegrounds.”
He said that it was paramount to protect the safety of the patients and staff, who the WHO had lost contact with.
“One thing is clear: under international humanitarian law, health facilities, health workers, ambulances and patients must be safeguarded and protected against all acts of war,” he said.
He added that under international humanitarian law – or the rules of war – even if health facilities are used for military purposes, the warring sides must distinguish between military members and civilians, take precautions and ensure that it does not cause more harm to civilians than the expected military gain.
He called on Israel to respect international humanitarian law and protect the safety of patients, staff and the integrity of the health care system.