Israel has targeted 473 medical staff in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7, killing 222 of them, according to Euro-Med.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called for the “protection” of aid convoys until they reach northern Gaza, in a phone call with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday.
“[Sheikh Mohammed] also stressed the need to sustainably open humanitarian corridors to ensure continued access to aid to the Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip and to provide the necessary protection for the aid convoys until they reach the north of the Strip,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Qatar’s foreign minister, and Guterres also discussed “ways for de-escalation and reaching a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip”.
Qatar has been juggling multiple diplomatic and humanitarian fronts in its efforts to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
The Gulf state, alongside Egypt, mediated a temporary truce that began on November 24 and was renewed twice, ultimately ending on December 1 and lasting seven days.
The pause led to the release of at least 110 Israeli and foreign captives from Gaza, according to a Doha News tally. As part of the deal, Israel released 240 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons.
On December 13, Qatar pledged $50 million at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva as an initial humanitarian aid package for Gaza.
Qatar had also pledged to provide 100 scholarships for Palestinians to continue their studies in Doha through the Education Above All Foundation’s (EAA) Al Fakhoora programme.
EAA established the Al Fakhoora programme in 2010 to honour the victims of prior Israeli bombardments of Gaza. Its name is inspired by the Al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia, which Israel attacked on November 18, killing an estimated 200 displaced Palestinians sheltering inside the facility.
Israel also destroyed the programme’s Al-Fakhoora House, an educational facility in the south of Gaza, on October 10.
On December 3, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani issued a directive to sponsor 3,000 orphans and treat 1,500 injured Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Sheikh Tamim also donated QAR 100 million (around $27.5 million) to back the local “Palestine Duty” charity campaign on Monday. The campaign gathered a total of QAR 200,048,750 (around $55 million) in donations for Gaza.
Qatar has so far sent 44 Qatari Armed Forces aircrafts to Egypt’s El Arish Airport carrying 1,464 tonnes of aid for Gaza, according to figures shared by Doha’s foreign ministry on December 13.
Impeded aid access in the north
Israel has impeded aid access to northern Gaza since the start of its ground invasion of the area in November, which saw the forceful evacuation of thousands of patients and displaced Palestinians from the Al-Shifa Medical Complex.
On Monday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the food security in the north “is believed to be significantly worse” in comparison to other areas. There are 1.9 million people currently displaced in Gaza, making up around 90% of the entire population.
“The situation in Gaza has deteriorated to the point whereby protection actors are largely unable to operate, due to communication outages, risks in moving and access cut to northern Gaza,” the OCHA added.
Gaza’s collapsed medical sector has struggled to treat tens of thousands of injured Palestinians in the besieged enclave due to the significant shortage of resources under the complete Israeli blockade.
Additionally, the non-stop bombardment of Gaza by Israel and raids of medical facilities have all forced 23 out of 35 hospitals in the Strip to stop operating. In the north, the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital is the only partially functional hospital and three others are minimally functional, according to the World Health Organization.
The three hospitals are Al-Shifa, Al Awda and Al Sahaba Medical Complex.
On 18 December, the Israeli occupation forces raided the vicinity of Al Awda hospital in Jabalia, northern Gaza, OCHA reported. The Israeli forces captured males aged over 16 years old, including medical staff, patients and internally displaced persons during the raid.
Six males remained under Israeli custody and their whereabouts are still unknown.
On Saturday, Israeli forces raided the Kamal Adwan Hospital and bulldozed tents housing displaced Palestinians in the building’s vicinity, Al Jazeera’s correspondent Anas Al-Sharif revealed. Al-Sharif said many Palestinians were buried alive as the bulldozers ripped through the tents.
“The occupation [Israeli] bulldozers trampled the tents of the displaced people in the hospital yard and brutally crushed them,” Al-Sharif said in a video report on the incident.
Palestine’s health ministry called for an international probe into the incident on Saturday.
Israel has targeted 473 medical staff in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7, killing 222 of the total figure, according to Euro-Med.
Israel has killed more than 19,650 Palestinians and wounded 52,600 others in Gaza, Palestine’s health ministry said on Wednesday.
Euro-Med reported a much higher figure on Tuesday of 26,612, including 10,305 children and those who are presumed dead under the rubble.
The war internally displaced 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza and destroyed 63,920 homes, the European agency added.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report saying that Israel has been using starvation as a “weapon of war” in Gaza.
“For over two months, Israel has been depriving Gaza’s population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare,” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at HRW, said in the report.
HRW also described Israel’s blockade of Gaza as “a war crime”, noting that Israel “is compounding its collective punishment of Palestinian civilians.”
“The deepening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza calls for an urgent and effective response from the international community,” Shakir added.