Israel 'systematically destroying' Gaza's health system following Al-Shifa Hospital operation: aid groups

Israel 'systematically destroying' Gaza's health system following Al-Shifa Hospital operation: aid groups
Aid groups have condemned the destruction of Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, which was destroyed during Israel's siege of the facility.
3 min read
03 April, 2024
Gaza's media office says that 400 people had been killed in Israel's operation at Al-Shifa Hospital [Getty]

Humanitarian organisations have said Israel is destroying Gaza's health system following the destruction of the enclave's biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, during a two-week military operation.

The operation, which was launched on 18 March, killed around 400 Palestinians according to Gaza's media office, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying 21 patients died due to the denial of care by Israeli forces.

Tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians from northern Gaza were sheltering at the hospital during the operation.

Israel alleges that it killed 200 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants and arrested 900 suspects, 500 of whom it claimed are confirmed to be militants.

There have been huge doubts cast about these numbers while among the detained were doctors and journalists, including Al-Araby TV's Mohammed Arab.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said the destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital was the latest evidence that Israel is "systematically dismantling the healthcare system in Gaza".

The comments from MAP echo those from the WHO, which said that the destruction of Al-Shifa "ripped the heart out of the health system". Only 10 out of the enclave's 36 hospitals remain partially functional, it noted.

"Attacking healthcare facilities violates international humanitarian law. We call on the international community to take urgent action to protect the remaining hospitals in Gaza and ensure accountability for perpetrators who violate international humanitarian law," it said.

The UK-based International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) warned that the UK may be complicit in what it described as Israel's pursuit of "acts of genocide in full view of the international community".

"By continuing to supply arms to the Israeli military, in full knowledge of how these weapons might be used, the UK is at risk of 'aiding and abetting' such acts according to legal experts," ICJP added.

UK government lawyers have warned ministers that Israel was violating international humanitarian law, while MPs are pressuring the government to suspend arms sales to Israel.

The accusations and condemnations come following Israel's targeted killing of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) humanitarian workers on Monday, which led to WCK suspending operations in the enclave.

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Three British nationals were killed, alongside an Australian, Polish, US-Canadian, and Palestinian when an Israeli drone struck three WCK-marked vehicles that were making their way down Gaza's coastal Al-Rashid Road.

Following the incident, and commenting on the destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that "UNSC member states should secure concrete assurances from the Israeli government that attacks against civilians and aid workers will stop".

"Only a ceasefire will protect civilians from further harm and enable the level of humanitarian scale up needed to save lives," it added.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed 32,975 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured a further 75,577 according to Gaza's health ministry.