How many more civilians have to die before the international community supports the call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza?
With the resumption of hostilities and the threat of Israeli ground operations in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Médecins du Monde is deeply concerned about the living conditions of the population in the besieged enclave.
The humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip is unprecedented in scale. The resumption of bombing is condemning thousands more civilians to death. More than 15,000 people have already been killed and the 2.3 million residents are threatened not only by the military operations, but also by the complete collapse of the health system, starvation, the consumption of contaminated water and the spread of infectious diseases.
For several weeks, the humanitarian community has been warning that respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is not compatible with the ongoing hostilities in Gaza. Médecins du Monde is dismayed to see the resumption of fighting at a time when the situation on the ground has never been so desperate. No military objective can justify the scale of the destruction that the whole world is witnessing today. Respect for human life and IHL must take precedence over all other political interests. We demand a ceasefire in Gaza.
THE PEOPLE OF GAZA ARE DEPRIVED OF EVERYTHING
The seven-day ceasefire, from 24 November to 1 December, barely allowed humanitarian organisations to start responding to the colossal needs of the population and to see the huge extent of the damage to civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. Since the fighting started again, our teams have been unable to work. More than one in three hospitals are no longer functioning and the rest are almost non-functional. Health facilities are still severely affected by shortages of medicines and medical equipment.
With the significant increase in cases of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and skin infections and the emergence of epidemics, in particular hepatitis A, the most vulnerable people – children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, women who have just given birth and people with disabilities – are particularly at risk.
NO PLACE IN GAZA IS SAFE
Médecins du Monde also condemns the issuance of Israeli military orders to evacuate the city of Khan Younis. Since the beginning of hostilities, their aim has never been to provide protection to the civilian population, as there is no safe place for civilians to take refuge. Hospitals have had to be evacuated in unacceptable conditions, resulting in the death of patients. The electronic communication of the map of the evacuation zones by the Israeli army to the residents of Gaza cannot be seen as an attempt to protect civilians. At a time when the population has limited access to the Internet due to the telecommunications outages, this map only adds to the confusion and panic.
1.8 million people are still displaced and more are leaving their shelters every day. Forcing the civilian population to settle in increasingly confined areas where security, shelter, food and sanitation conditions are not met is physically impossible and completely unsustainable from a humanitarian point of view. This is simply not consistent with IHL and could therefore constitute a serious violation.