Thursday, June 13, 2024

Palestine: statement on attacks on medical and civilian infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank

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High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, have issued the following statement:

“Since the start of the conflict in Gaza, following the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas on 7 October, 31 out of 36 hospitals have been damaged or destroyed. Among the destroyed is the Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in Gaza, which remains today completely out of service.

The remaining hospitals in Gaza are partially functioning, and operating under severe limitations. Due to the dire situation many of them are on the verge of collapse or had to be closed . Access to emergency medical care is even more crucial at a time when Palestinians in Gaza live under constant shelling and more than 9,000 severely injured people are at risk of dying due to the lack of adequate health care. 

Since October 7, the WHO has recorded a total of 890 attacks on health facilities, with 443 occurring in Gaza and 447 in the West Bank.

Attacks against health-care workers, hospitals and ambulances disrupt vital medical services. They deprive people of life-saving treatment. These attacks must end. At the same time, regarding the mandatory protection of civilians under International Humanitarian Law, the EU strongly condemns the use of hospitals for any purposes other than medical.

All parties must respect international humanitarian law. The situation of innocent people in Gaza is as desperate as ever. The same goes for the hostages still held by Hamas, certainly also in very dire conditions.

The EU is also concerned about the continuous attacks on healthcare in the West Bank, where over 50 health facilities and 300 ambulances have been deliberately damaged in the past months.

In response to the humanitarian crisis, the EU has mobilised all its crisis response tools to channel medical aid to Gaza, including its EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights carrying tonnes of medical aid, and has significantly increased its funding to humanitarian partners. But this support can only offer temporary relief to the people suffering.

A human tragedy is playing out in real time in front of our eyes. The European Union is deeply concerned by the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza. We reiterate our calls for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and full humanitarian access.”

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