Human Rights Groups Warn of Gaza Health System Collapse

Call for Civilian Escape Routes

By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent

Published January 14, 2009, issue of January 23, 2009.

Nine human rights organizations joined forces on Wednesday to call for emergency humanitarian relief for the population of the Gaza Strip.

Using the umbrella name “Clear and Present Danger,” the group claims that the number of Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead has reached 1,000 and the number of wounded has reached 5,000.

The group warned that Israel is perpetrating grave violations of international law in Gaza in a letter addressed to the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF chief of staff, the attorney general and the head of GOC Southern Command. The letter added that after the fighting ends, the time will come for those responsible for the violations to face the consequences. The group claims that there have been at least six instances of Israel Defense Forces soldiers firing on medical crews, resulting in 12 deaths and 17 wounded. They also claim to have documented 15 cases of IDF troops firing on medical facilities

The human rights activists warn of a complete collapse of the health system in Gaza, with at least 850 chronically ill patients and hundreds of wounded who have not been treated. They also fear outbreaks of infectious diseases resulting from the collapse of the water and sewage systems in Gaza.

Among other things, the group is calling for an escape route to be opened for Gaza’s civilians, immediate medical treatment for all the sick and wounded and better access for rescue personnel who have been prevented from reaching areas where fighting has taken place.



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