UNITED NATIONS, August 3 (RIA Novosti) – Over three weeks of conflict in Gaza, at least five medical staff have been killed in the line of duty and tens have been injured, the UN has announced.
James W. Rawley, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, said, “we are now looking at a health and humanitarian disaster, the fighting must stop immediately.” He said that in Gaza, one third of hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 Palestinian Red Crescent and Ministry of Health ambulances have been damaged in the fighting.
The UN said that in the past 24 hours, anonymous calls were made to staff at both the Najjar Hospital in Rafah and Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City warning of imminent attacks, causing major panic and chaos among patients and staff. Najjar Hospital was evacuated and remains closed due to fighting nearby.
Dr. Ambrogio Manenti, acting Head of Office of the World Health Organization’s operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said that “the ability to provide necessary healthcare is being severely compromised. This puts the lives of thousands of Palestinians in needless danger.”
The UN estimates that 460,000 people have been displaced and are now living in schools, with relatives or in makeshift shelters.
Robert Turner, Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip for the UN Relief and Works Agency, said that “hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering in terrible conditions, pushing UNRWA’s coping capacity to the edge.”
Humanitarian Coordinator Rawley concluded: “International law sets out clear obligations on the parties to the conflict to respect the status of hospitals and medical facilities as protected objects, to respect the status of and ensure the protection of medical personnel, to ensure the protection of civilians and to respect the fundamental human right to health.”
The UN Human Rights Council on June 24 established a commission of inquiry on Gaza.