Gaza’s authorities said “dogs entered Al-Shifa Hospital and mauled the bodies of the martyrs.”
A number of United Nations organisations have together in a statement demanding an end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s health sector, which has been completely devastated due to weeks-long bombardment on hospitals, health facilities and medics across the strip.
The joint statement was signed by the regional offices of the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN children’s agency (UNICEF), and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
“We are horrified at the latest reports of attacks on and in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital, Al-Rantissi Naser Paediatric Hospital, Al-Quds Hospital, and others in Gaza city and northern Gaza, killing many, including children,” the statement read.
The agencies added that “intense hostilities surrounding several hospitals in northern Gaza are preventing safe access for health staff, the injured, and other patients.” However, the statement fell short of naming Israel as the perpetrator of the humanitarian crimes on the ground in Gaza.
The letter further expressed its concern over the situation of 39 premature babies at the Al Shifa Hospital, the biggest in Gaza, all of whom are at risk of dying due to the absence of power and oxygen. Health authorities on Saturday confirmed at least two of the babies have died.
Putting figures to the crisis on the ground, WHO said it recorded at least 137 attacks on the health care in Gaza since the start of the war, including 521 deaths and 686 injuries. The agency recorded at least 16 deaths and 38 injuries of health workers on duty.
In total, at least 11,200 people in Gaza, including more than 4,600 children have been killed in the weeks-long brutal aggression, though the numbers are expected to be higher.
“Attacks on medical facilities and civilians are unacceptable and are a violation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and Conventions. They cannot be condoned. The right to seek medical assistance, especially in times of crisis, should never be denied,” the statement read.
The UN confirmed that more than half of hospitals in Gaza are closed and the remaining functioning facilities “are under massive strain and can only provide very limited emergency services, lifesaving surgery and intensive care services.”
On Sunday, Al-Quds Hospital ceased all operations as a result of fuel shortages, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) announced.
“The world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair. Decisive international action is needed now to secure an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and prevent further loss of life, and preserve what’s left of the health care system in Gaza,” the UN agencies stressed.
Gaza’s health sector officially collapsed last month after Israel cut off all water, fuel and entry of necessities from the Strip as part of its complete siege. Doctors have been forced to treat thousands of patients on the floor without anaesthesia.
Gaza’s health authorities said Al Shifa Hospital has turned into a mass grave, in which doctors have been forced to bury victims inside the building due to the non-stop bombardment and attacks by Israeli forces around the vicinity of the facility.
Also on Sunday, authorities said “dogs entered Al-Shifa Hospital and mauled the bodies of the martyrs.”
Speaking at the Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh on Saturday, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani invited the UN to conduct further investigations into the Israeli claims, though he noted that “there is no justification for such a crime.”
“How did bombing hospitals become a normal thing? At first it is denied and the victims are accused, then it is justified by the existence of tunnels underneath these places, then it becomes something that does not need to be justified after feelings become blunted and eyes become acclimated to seeing tragedies,” he said.