Gaza’s Medical Crisis: Israel’s Attacks Targeting Vulnerable People Are Unacceptable

The wretched situation in which hospitals are attacked, medicines and fuel are depleted, and innocent patients and infants are killed or injured is simply unbearable to see. Demands must be made for Israel to exercise restraint.

Damage to medical facilities is widening in the Palestinian territory of Gaza where the fighting between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas continues. Attacks by the Israeli military have forced more than half of Gaza’s hospitals to shut down, according to the World Health Organization.

In addition, the Palestinian side has announced that the largest hospital in Gaza ran out of fuel for electricity, causing a power failure that led to the deaths of many patients, including newborn babies.

Israel has justified its attacks by claiming there is a Hamas military base under the hospital.

However, even if there was such a stronghold there, it is outrageous to attack a facility sheltering patients, displaced persons and medical personnel, and take their lives. This is also contrary to international humanitarian law. It is unreasonable to demand patients in critical condition and infants leave the hospital without any support.

The Palestinian death toll has reached well over 10,000. Civilians must not be further entangled in the conflict.

Israel has announced a daily pause in fighting of four hours, but this is insufficient. Short, repeated breaks will not be enough to provide the residents of Gaza with adequate water, food and fuel, nor will it give them time to evacuate to safer areas.

Saudi Arabia hosted a joint emergency summit of the Arab League that it and other Arab states belong to and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, consisting of predominantly Muslim states, to condemn Israel’s aggression against Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire.

Demonstrations against Israel are spreading in Europe as well. Israel should be aware of the harsh international public opinion against its inhumane attacks.

It must not be forgotten, of course, that the crisis began when Hamas militants intruded into Israel, killing many civilians and taking hostages. The Palestinian Authority has lost support in Gaza partly due to corruption and has lost real power to Hamas.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not condemned Hamas’ latest outrageous act and has not taken steps to resolve the situation. It is obvious that the Palestinian Authority lacks the capacity to handle the issue as a party concerned and does not deserve the status of a self-ruling government.

If Hamas were to be annihilated in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority is supposed to be responsible for governing the territory, but it would struggle to do so under its current circumstances.

There is also the need to watch out for the moves of Iran, which is hostile to Israel. It was extremely thoughtless for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to praise Hamas’ violent activities and make statements suggesting he wanted the conflict to widen.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 15, 2023)