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Doctors Without Borders Urges UN Security Council To Demand Gaza Cease-Fire

22.02.2024 21:42

'Our colleagues in Gaza are fearful that, as I speak to you today, they will be punished tomorrow,’ says head of medical charity.

The head of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) voiced concern Thursday about Israeli attacks on health workers and civilians in the Gaza Strip and urged a cease-fire.

"As I speak, more than 1.5 million people are trapped in Rafah. People violently forced to this strip of land in southern Gaza are bearing the brunt of Israel's military campaign.

"We live in fear of a ground invasion," Christopher Lockyear told a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

His remarks came after Israeli forces attacked a shelter Tuesday that housed staff and their families from the medical charity in Al Mawasi. The strike killed at least two family members and injured six others.

"Israeli forces have attacked our convoys, detained our staff, and bulldozed our vehicles, and hospitals have been bombed and raided. Now, for a second time, one of our staff shelters has been hit. This pattern of attacks is either intentional or indicative of reckless incompetence.

"Our colleagues in Gaza are fearful that, as I speak to you today, they will be punished tomorrow," he said. "Every day we witness unimaginable horror."

"The humanitarian response in Gaza today is an illusion -- a convenient illusion that perpetuates a narrative that this war is being waged in line with international laws," he added.

'In Gaza, we have less and less each day'

"Calls for more humanitarian assistance have echoed across this chamber. Yet in Gaza, we have less and less each day -- less space, less medicine, less food, less water, less safety.

"We no longer speak of a humanitarian scale-up. We speak of how to survive even without the bare minimum. Today in Gaza, efforts to provide assistance are haphazard, opportunistic, and entirely inadequate," he said.

Lockyear said the Council has failed to effectively address the conflict and the US used its veto power three times to vote for a cease-fire that is "so desperately needed."

"We are appalled by the willingness of the United States to use its powers as a permanent Council member to obstruct efforts to adopt the most evident of resolutions: one demanding an immediate and sustained cease-fire," he said, adding the Council should reject any resolution that further hampers humanitarian efforts on the ground.

'It has become political complicity'

The protection of civilians, of civilian infrastructure, of health workers and health facilities, falls "first and foremost" on the parties to the conflict, he said.

"But it is also a collective responsibility -- a responsibility which rests with this Council and its individual members, as parties to the Geneva Conventions.

"The consequences of casting international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate well beyond Gaza. It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience. This is not just political inaction -- it has become political complicity," he added.

Despite a recent Israeli attack on MSF staff and families, the staff are back at work, "risking their lives once again" for their patients, said Lockyear.

"What are you willing to risk? We demand the protections promised under International humanitarian law.

"We demand a cease-fire from both parties. We demand the space to turn the illusion of aid into meaningful assistance. What will you do to make this possible?" he added.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 Hamas attack. The ensuing Israeli attacks have killed more than 29,410 Palestinians and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Less than 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN. -

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