Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s health workers: Hundreds killed, thousands injured amid devastating siege

Since Oct. 7, Israeli forces have killed over 700 health care workers and targeted medical facilities 450 times, severely crippling Gaza’s health infrastructure.

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Image Credit: Abdulqader Sabbah/Anadolu via Getty Images

Israeli forces have killed over 700 health care workers and targeted medical facilities 450 times since Oct. 7, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). These attacks have severely crippled Gaza’s health infrastructure and compounded the already dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

The WHO’s report highlights the scale and impact of these attacks, revealing that at least 723 health care workers have been killed and another 924 injured. The assaults on health care facilities have rendered no hospital in Gaza capable of operating at full capacity, severely hindering the ability of medical professionals to provide necessary care.

The damage to Gaza’s health care facilities has been catastrophic. The Kuwait Hospital in Rafah, for instance, was completely shut down after an Israeli airstrike near its entrance killed at least two health care workers. This incident is just one of many that illustrate the relentless targeting of medical infrastructure by Israeli forces.

Overall, Gaza’s health system is on the brink of collapse. Health care workers, already working under extreme conditions, are now facing insurmountable challenges in treating the wounded and sick. The continuous bombardment has not only destroyed buildings but also disrupted the supply of essential medical supplies and services.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is exacerbated by Israel’s blockade on humanitarian aid. This blockade has forced millions of Palestinians to face imminent starvation and the rapid spread of diseases in dangerously overcrowded and unsanitary displacement camps. The WHO has recorded nearly 1.5 million infections, including outbreaks of chickenpox and hepatitis, which are spreading faster than ever due to the lack of sanitation and overcrowded living conditions.

The blockade and continuous airstrikes have left the population with little access to clean water, food, and medical care, creating a situation where survival itself has become a daily struggle for many.

Israeli airstrikes on Rafah have been particularly deadly. On a single day, strikes killed at least 45 Palestinians, many of whom were children, who were sheltering in a displacement camp. Another 249 people were wounded, many critically, with injuries including severed limbs and severe burns. The strike occurred less than a mile from a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical facility, highlighting the indiscriminate nature of the bombardment.

Witnesses to these attacks reported horrific scenes. Charred bodies, a child decapitated by an explosion, and a medic carrying a person whose brains had been blown out were some of the gruesome images recounted. Layan al-Fayoum, a young Palestinian teenager who survived the massacre, described the aftermath: “We had to recover dismembered limbs and dead children.”

Abo Sebah, a resident of the displacement camp who fled central Gaza in January, accused Israel of furthering its ethnic cleansing campaign. “We have never seen any resistance fighters here. The fighters are in the combat zones in eastern Rafah. The Israelis just say these things to justify their actions. They want to kill the Palestinian people, forcibly expel them, and destroy their homes,” Sebah said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to stop its assault on Rafah, but Israeli forces have continued their attacks. Despite the order being legally binding, the ICJ lacks an enforcement mechanism, and Israeli leaders had already stated they would defy any such order.

Humanitarian organizations have expressed outrage over the continued violence. MSF, in a social media post, condemned the attacks, stating, “We are horrified by this deadly event, which shows once again that nowhere is safe.” The lack of international enforcement leaves Gaza’s civilians and health workers vulnerable to ongoing violence and deprivation.

The siege of Rafah, which started earlier this month, has forced nearly a million Palestinians to flee again after they were initially lured to the city under the pretense that it was a “safe zone.” The relentless attacks have left residents in a state of perpetual fear and uncertainty. One resident told Reuters, “There are a lot of attacks, smoke and dust. It is death from God…The [Israelis] are hitting everywhere. We’re tired.”

Israel’s tactics in Gaza have been described by many as a form of collective punishment. Since the start of what has been called a genocidal bombing and starvation campaign in October, Israeli forces have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, including 15,000 children, and injured over 80,000 others. These numbers are likely underreported as thousands are missing and presumed buried under the rubble.

The WHO reported, “The attacks have crippled Gaza’s health system with none of its hospitals now operating at full capacity.” Eyewitness testimonies from survivors like Layan al-Fayoum and Abo Sebah offer a personal perspective on the atrocities being committed.

The ongoing violence in Gaza has led to a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. The targeting of health care workers and facilities by Israeli forces has not only caused immense loss of life but has also crippled the region’s ability to respond to the crisis. As the international community continues to call for an end to the violence, the situation on the ground remains dire. “We are horrified by this deadly event, which shows once again that nowhere is safe,” stated MSF.

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