Statement on the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza and Israel
As medical students of PHR’s Student Advisory Board, we are committed to the promotion and advancement of human rights. This includes standing to end human rights violations locally, nationally, and globally.
Following decades of occupation, Hamas’s reprehensible attacks on October 7 killed more than 1300 people in Israel. At least 150 civilians were reportedly taken hostage and forcibly transferred to Gaza. Hamas’s deliberate targeting of civilians and the numerous atrocities reported constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Israeli military response against civilians in Gaza has already resulted in the reported deaths of over 2,000 people in Gaza, including almost 800 children. Israeli authorities’ decision to cut off all electricity, food, water, and medical supplies to the two million Palestinians living in the densely populated Gaza Strip threatens many more lives. This blockade constitutes collective punishment of Palestinian civilians and crimes against humanity. As an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza looms and violence risks escalating even further across the region, protecting civilians against illegal and inhumane actions must remain the paramount obligation for the international community.
There are recent reports of at least 34 attacks on health care facilities in Gaza and the deaths of 11 health workers, according to the United Nations. Gaza’s hospitals and healthcare facilities are now barely able to function due to shortages of clinicians, fuel, and vital supplies. In Israel, at least one hospital was reportedly damaged by Hamas rockets and health workers are among the dead. Under international law, hospitals and other health facilities are sanctuaries, places of refuge even amid the horrors of war. Health workers must be safe to do their jobs and provide impartial care to all. Medical personnel must be protected and respected; hospitals and ambulances are not targets.
Israel and Palestinian authorities must establish safe spaces. Hamas must release all hostages and prisoners of war. Doctors Without Borders has stated, “Israel must cease its campaign of collective punishment against the entirety of Gaza. The entry of humanitarian assistance, food, water, fuel, medicine, and medical equipment to the Gaza Strip must be facilitated. The failure to do so will cost more lives.”
At this moment of deep crisis, PHR expresses its support to civilians caught in the crossfire, as well as to our partners and all health care workers who are doing everything possible to assure the treatment of the sick and wounded without discrimination.
International law and the experience of Physicians for Human Rights around the world are clear: Atrocities by one side can never justify atrocities by the other. Accountability and respect for international human rights and humanitarian law are the only clear way forward, as is the demanding of action against commitment of mass atrocities and genocide.