Concerns escalate as the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza leads to international criticism over the increasing civilian death toll and targeted attacks on hospitals. The displacement of tens of thousands of civilians reminds many of the displacement experienced during the 1948 Arab-Israel war. With hospitals facing challenging conditions and civilian casualties rising, there is mounting pressure for a cease-fire.
Netanyahu’s Defense and Attacks on Hospitals:
In an NBC News interview, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justifies Israel’s military actions, claiming that they aim to minimize civilian casualties and avoid targeting patients or civilians. However, Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, has become engulfed in the conflict, leaving approximately 10,000 displaced individuals and 1,500 trapped patients. The hospital is surrounded by Israeli forces, creating hazardous conditions for those inside.
Humanitarian Crisis and Civilian Deaths:
The Gaza Health Ministry reports that over 11,000 Palestinians have lost their lives in a little over a month of war, with a significant number falling victim to Israeli airstrikes. Following the Hamas militant attacks on October 7, which resulted in casualties and hostages in southern Israel, Israel launched a ground offensive. Netanyahu argues that this offensive is reducing civilian casualties as people heed evacuation calls.
Israeli Efforts and Criticism:
Israeli forces claim to have established safe passages for civilians to leave hospitals like Shifa, Rantisi, and al-Nasr. However, aid groups and medical workers find themselves trapped amidst the fighting, lacking power and resources. Israeli strikes have caused extensive damage to hospitals, impacting critical infrastructure such as generators, water wells, and oxygen stations. Premature babies have tragically lost their lives, while others suffer severe complications. UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemns Netanyahu’s assertion of compliance with international laws, highlighting the failure to protect civilians.
U.S. Concerns and Call for Ceasefire:
While the Biden administration supports Israel’s war effort, it also expresses concern over civilian casualties. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan emphasizes the need to protect sick or injured patients and prevent fighting in hospitals. The U.S. urges Israel to minimize civilian deaths and advocates for a cease-fire. Netanyahu remains determined to continue the war, emphasizing the importance of a peace alliance involving Israel, the U.S., moderate Arab states, and the civilized world. However, Arab leaders condemn Israel’s actions and call for an urgent cease-fire.
Dire Humanitarian Situation and Communication Shutdown:
The ongoing destruction and bombardments have severely damaged Gaza’s communication networks, resulting in partial or complete shutdowns. Displaced people in shelters have gone without bottled water for over a week, exacerbating the already desperate humanitarian situation. Aid delivery falls short of meeting the needs of the besieged population, which exceeds 2 million people. Southern hospitals are overwhelmed and lack the necessary resources to treat the growing number of wounded, leaving Gaza in a dire and seemingly hopeless situation.
As the Israel-Gaza conflict persists, concerns escalate over attacks on hospitals and the rising civilian death toll. The United States expresses displeasure with the situation, and international pressure for a cease-fire intensifies. Gaza’s hospitals face formidable challenges as they operate under perilous conditions with damaged critical infrastructure. The humanitarian crisis worsens as limited aid reaches the population, and communication networks face shutdown. Urgent efforts are required to alleviate suffering and find a resolution to the conflict.