UN Expert: Israel Waging an Unrelenting War on Gaza’s Health System

Gaza, MINA – Israel has been waging an ‘unrelenting war’ on the health system in Gaza, Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, said on Thursday, after hospitals, including one dedicated to treating children, were hit by airstrikes in recent weeks, Wafa reports.

“The practice of medicine is under attack,” said Mofokeng. “As a practicing medical doctor, I cannot fathom what my Gazan colleagues are enduring. They are working while their colleagues and loved ones are under attack. Many have been killed while treating their patients.”

At least 364 Israeli attacks on healthcare services have been recorded in the occupied Palestinian territory since 7 October 2023, resulting in at least 553 people killed and 729 injured, according to UN figures. More than 50 health facilities and 190 ambulances have also been affected.

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Other healthcare workers have been injured, arrested, and detained, including the General Director of Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, who was arrested on 23 November. His whereabouts are unknown.

“The healthcare infrastructure in the Gaza strip has been completely obliterated,” the Special Rapporteur said.

At least five newborn babies at the Al Shifa hospital died before a planned evacuation could take place. The UN expert said there has also been an increase in communicable diseases, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea, and an increased risk of child pneumonia, which will only worsen as this war continues into the winter.

“We are in the darkest time for the right to health in our lifetimes,” Mofokeng said.

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She pointed to an “immeasurable” number of violations of the special protection afforded to civilians, children, and medical personnel under international humanitarian law, alongside widespread violations of international human rights law.

“We have descended into depths from which we must quickly emerge,” she said. “For people to have access to quality healthcare, they must have access to healthcare workers, and those healthcare workers must be safe and free to provide care.”

“As a child survivor of apartheid, I understand all too well the trauma that children and people of Gaza will carry with them, not only from the current violence, but from the displacement and military occupation that they, and generations of their families, have endured,” Mofokeng said.

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She underscored the need to prevent conflict and address root causes. The UN expert reiterated her call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory.

“We bear witness to a shameful war on healthcare workers. This war is raging because of a lack of political leadership. End the war on Gaza, and end it now,” the expert said. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)