Mobilization for Gaza
Beirut, Monday 4th December 2023 – As in most capitals around the world, we stand, on the mobilization day for Gaza designated by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), from Beirut, to raise a call to all concerned parties about the urgent need to secure an immediate and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza. The Israeli government must cease its war against Palestinian civilians, halt forced displacement, and end attacks on hospitals and medical personnel. The siege and Israeli restrictions on aid must stop now.
Since the start of the Israeli aggression without distinction between military and civilian targets in Gaza, Israel has shown explicit and complete disregard for the laws of war. This ranges from the principle of protecting medical facilities in Gaza to preventing access to humanitarian, food, and medical aid. We have witnessed numerous medical facilities being targeted by Israeli military attacks, while other facilities were under siege or subject to intrusion, leading to the death of many patients and medical staff. The healthcare system in Gaza has collapsed. Over 14,000 people have been killed, half of them children, according to Gaza’s health authorities. This represents one out of every 200 people in Gaza. Tens of thousands are injured, and families are digging with their own hands to extract their deceased loved ones from under the rubble. According to the United Nations, at least 1.7 million people have been displaced. Israel ordered civilians to move south, but even that area had been bombed by Israel. There is no safe place for Palestinians. Subjecting an entire population to collective punishment is a war crime as per International Humanitarian Law. Even wars have rules, but Israel is clearly trading them in for its own military strategy based on disproportionality.
Gaza, under an Israel-imposed blockade since 2007, is indeed the world’s largest open-air prison. Recently, Médecins Sans Frontières sent an international emergency team to Gaza to support our Palestinian colleagues in enhancing medical and surgical capacities in health facilities. Unfortunately, their activities have been severely limited due to the scale of casualties, destruction of infrastructure, and lack of essential supplies such as fuel. We want and ought to be able to do so much more, but today this is almost impossible due to the blockade and infrastructure destruction. Three of our MSF staff have been killed, and many more have lost family members.
Although a 10-day truce is the first sign of humanity after weeks of relentless violence, it is by no means a solution of any kind. Any respite for the people of Gaza is welcome, especially if it gives them access to medical supplies, food, and water. However, considering the immeasurable needs, these 10 days are not nearly enough to organize the delivery of sufficient aid to meet the immeasurable needs. A sustained ceasefire is the only way to stop the killing of thousands more civilians and allow for the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid.
The indiscriminate and relentless attacks must stop now. The forcible displacements must stop now. The assaults on hospitals and medical staff must stop now. The siege and restrictions on aid must stop now. It must ALL STOP NOW.