Doctors protest against Israeli breach of ‘medical neutrality’

Irish medics say attacks on Palestinian medical facilities breach international laws

Smoke rises in the northern Gaza Strip after an Israeli air strike today. Irish doctors and medical staff protested outside the Dail today, accusing Israel of breaching international law following several attacks on Palestinian medical facilities. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Smoke rises in the northern Gaza Strip after an Israeli air strike today. Irish doctors and medical staff protested outside the Dail today, accusing Israel of breaching international law following several attacks on Palestinian medical facilities. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 22:12

Members of the Irish medical community have staged a protest against what it calls the illegal Israeli breach of medical neutrality in Gaza through the killing of medics and targeting of hospitals in the besieged territory.

Gathering outside the Dail today, doctors and medical staff rounded on the Israeli administration for breaching international law following several attacks on Palestinian medical facilities and for impeding supplies.

The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 700 with countless injuries inflicted, largely on the civilian population which has been left bereft of sufficient aid.

In a live telephone link up, Mahmoud Abu Rahme of the Al Mazan Human Rights Centre in Gaza painted a grim picture of the situation on the ground.

He said seven hospitals had been deliberately attacked by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

“At this moment there are people who are buried under the rubble. There are people who are bleeding in various areas in the Gaza strip,” he said.

“Most of these people, if not all, are civilians and they [MEDICS]are not allowed to go forward for a few hundred metres to collect them to safety and to hospital.

“We want to insist that this kind of attack on civilians, on houses, on hospitals, on ambulances and other facilities are serious violations of international law.”

Earlier this week, the Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) organisation said it witnessed several attacks on medical personnel by Israeli forces.

In once incident a clearly marked MSF vehicle avoided an air strike 300 metres away. Medical workers and facilities “must be respected”, it said.

Professor Damian McCormack of Temple St Children’s Hospital in Dublin was among the Irish medical contingent today. He said in Gaza “we have a clear violation of the principles of medical neutrality through the shelling of hospitals.

“These are real people and real children; 43 per cent of the population in Gaza are kids. Over 700 are dead now and half of them are children. It’s infanticide.”

Professor McCormack called on the Israeli ambassador to Ireland to explain his country’s actions or leave.

His colleague, Dr Paul Connolly, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, likened the situation in Gaza to a “slow grinding genocide”.

The demonstration, which was attended by about 60 people, heard from several speakers, including Dr Bassam Naser, spokesman for the Irish Medical Aid for Palestinians charity, who said the issue of providing medical provisions to Gaza was critical.