UK organisation urges action over Israel/Gaza

  • Post last modified:February 16, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

As Israel refuses to back down over its assault on Rafah – while still facing “plausible” genocide accusations as well as attacking another hospital – UK medical group EveryDoctor is calling on British politicians to act further. It has written an open letter and wants people to sign it.

Israel’s assault on Gaza: the latest

Israel faced renewed calls from key ally the US on Friday 16 February against it launching a large-scale attack on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are trapped.

Israel’s far-right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted he would push ahead with a “powerful” operation in the overcrowded city to achieve “complete victory” over the Hamas militant group.

US President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Netanyahu late on Thursday 15 February, urging him not to carry out an attack on Rafah without a plan to keep civilians safe.

The UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have also urged Israel not to launch a ground offensive in the city. British prime minister Rishi Sunak told Netanyahu by phone that his government was:

deeply concerned about… the potentially devastating humanitarian impact of a military incursion into Rafah.

Israel drove hundreds of thousands of people into Rafah, seeking shelter in a sprawling makeshift encampment near the Egyptian border.

The city now hosts more than half of Gaza’s population, with displaced people “crammed” into less than 20% of the territory, according to UN humanitarian agency OCHA. One resident Ahlam Abu Assi told Agence France-Presse (AFP):

We were displaced from Gaza City to the south. [Israel] told us to go to Rafah, so we went to Rafah. We can’t keep going and coming. There is no safe place for us.

Israeli strikes killed 112 people early on 16 February across Gaza.  So far, Israel has killed at least 28,663 people.

EveryDoctor in the UK: an emergency letter

Now, UK organisation EveryDoctor is calling on people to sign an emergency letter to British politicians.

EveryDoctor is a campaign group of medical professionals. It acts mostly around the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). However, given the large number of medical professionals Israel has killed in Gaza, along with the devastation to hospitals, and the overall death toll, EveryDoctor has decided to act.

It said in a statement:

The situation in Gaza is a fast-evolving humanitarian emergency, and we feel compelled to speak up and demand immediate action from UK political leaders… EveryDoctor first wrote to UK political leaders about the situation in November 2023. Since then, the circumstances have further deteriorated.

EveryDoctor has penned an open letter. Part of it says:

As members and supporters of EveryDoctor, a non-profit organisation which campaigns for the NHS, its staff and patients, we have been horrified by the death toll of non-combatant civilians over recent months. In particular, the laws introduced by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 relating to the protection of medical workers, the sick and wounded, and civilians, have not been observed, resulting in catastrophic consequences.

In our view, the UK government and opposition leaders have not done enough to push for a ceasefire. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK has the power on the international stage to demand peace. We therefore implore again, at this critical stage, that you take every measure possible to push for humanitarian aid, a sustainable and permanent ceasefire, and a diplomatic route towards peace.

You can sign the open letter here. EveryDoctor’s letter comes as Israel has launched an assault on another hospital in Gaza.

Israel: still attacking hospitals

Israel sent troops into one of the largest medical sites in southern Gaza on 15 February. It said its forces were hunting for hostages and carrying out a “precise and limited operation” at the facility.

Intense fighting has been reported in recent days between Israeli forces and Hamas around Nasser Hospital – one of the territory’s few operational medical facilities.

Israel said there was “no obligation” for patients or staff to evacuate. However, Gaza’s health ministry reported that thousands of people who had sought refuge in the complex, including patients, have been made to leave in recent days.

It has called the situation at Nasser “catastrophic”, with staff unable to move bodies to the morgue because of the risks involved.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) described a “chaotic situation” in the hospital after it was shelled early on 15 February, killing and wounding multiple people. It told AFP:

Our medical staff have had to flee the hospital, leaving patients behind.

The UN Human Rights Office said Israel’s raid on the hospital appeared to be:

part of a pattern of attacks by Israeli forces striking essential life-saving civilian infrastructure in Gaza, especially hospitals.

All this is against the backdrop of the International Court of Justice’s ruling against Israel and its investigation into the state’s “plausible” attempt at genocide in Gaza.

Additional reporting via AFP

Featured image via Democracy Now – YouTube

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