Geneva/Beirut, 5 January 2024
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appalled by the continuous shelling of the Al-Amal Hospital and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) headquarters in Khan Yunis. These strikes have led to the loss of innocent civilian lives, including a five-day old infant, and displaced thousands who were taking shelter at the hospital.
One of our colleagues, a volunteer from the PRCS emergency medical services was injured in the strike, which is in addition to the 26 who have been injured since the beginning of the escalation of hostilities and the four colleagues who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.
After the north of Gaza health services were largely destroyed, the health care system in the southern part of the Gaza Strip is on the brink of collapse. Most hospitals in the north, including PRCS's Al-Quds hospital, have ceased operations due to fuel shortages, lack of medicines, medical equipment, and safe access. Al-Amal Hospital, one of the few still functioning in the south, is duly marked by the Red Crescent emblem.
The Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal emblems, symbolize neutral and independent humanitarian assistance at all times, and guarantee protection in times of conflict and disaster around the world. Continuous shelling, coupled with a dire shortage of fuel and supplies, has pushed the health facility to its limits.
The continuous bombardments have disrupted PRCS ambulances and paramedics, hindering vital medical aid and basic lifesaving emergency care. Access to medical care is a basic right, and blocking these services is unacceptable.
The IFRC stands with the PRCS, urging protection for all medical facilities and workers. We commend the bravery of PRCS volunteers and paramedics, many of whom have lost family members or been detained, yet continue to respond selflessly.
We call on all parties to uphold their obligations under International Humanitarian Law. That means the protection of civilians, healthcare workers, and facilities. We call for rapid and unimpeded passage for humanitarian aid, and safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers.
In any conflict or crisis, access to health care is a question of life or death. People in Gaza have suffered enough, and healthcare is one of the last remaining beacons of hope.
It’s a humanitarian and moral imperative to ensure the people of Gaza can access health care during this period of intense conflict.
More information, contact [email protected]
Mey Alsayegh: +961 3 229 352
Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67
Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06