Intended for healthcare professionals


Israeli forces attack medical facilities in Gaza and destroy brand new hospital

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 28 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4865
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Israeli forces have blown up a hospital in eastern Gaza City, after forcing staff and patients to evacuate with telephoned threats and missile strikes. The al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, still full of valuable medical equipment, was completely demolished from the air on 23 July after Israeli security officials confirmed by telephone with the hospital’s director that it was empty of staff and patients.

On the same evening, Israeli artillery incapacitated Gaza’s biggest generating station, responsible for providing half the enclave’s electricity. The grid is running at roughly 10% of capacity. About half of Gaza’s buildings have running water.

Operation Protective Edge has now killed over 1030 Palestinians, including 217 children, and wounded around 5000. Many towns are completely cut off, although a brief truce on 23 July allowed Red Cross and Red Crescent ambulance convoys to evacuate wounded people from some stricken areas.

Gaza was already one of the world’s most crowded places before Israel demanded that civilians quit a 3 km wide strip along its eastern border, which covers 44% of its territory. “There is literally no safe place for civilians,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a statement underlined two days later when Israeli shells killed 16 and wounded over 100 people sheltering in a UN school.

The number of displaced people has reached over 118 000, twice the figure in the 2009 campaign, and is still climbing steeply. The toll on civil infrastructure has been heavy, with over 3000 homes, 46 schools, and 54 mosques damaged in the first two weeks. Sixteen hospitals and clinics have also come under fire, the World Health Organization has said.1

Ambulances and paramedics have historically suffered heavily in Israeli operations in Gaza, but the current campaign has put hospitals themselves on …

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