The EU needs to protect Palestinian civilians, especially health workers in time of ongoing genocide

We are shocked that Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, rector of the University of Glasgow and plastic and emergency surgeon, was denied entry into France where he was due to address the Senate. Dr Ghassan has witnessed all Israel’s assaults on Gaza since 2008, and was in Gaza for the first month of the current one, working first in Al Shifa hospital and then, when evacuated, to Al Alhi Baptist hospital. 

We are also concerned about silencing doctors in Gaza, via means of physical suppression. Health workers have been killed under torture, and hundreds of bodies have been discovered buried by civil defense workers on hospital grounds. We have been horrified by the news that Dr. Adnan Al Bursh, director of surgery at Al Shifa Hospital, forced to evacuate to Al Awda Hospital and among the health personnel kidnapped there in December by the Israeli army, and imprisoned in the prison camp of Ofer, died there on April 19th.

The Palestinian health workers do all that is possible in a situation where a large part of the health system has been destroyed. As the Israeli occupation forces just ordered a mass displacement of people again for a ground operation in Rafah, concerns are growing about the possibility of maintaining what remains of the health system and rebuilding it after a ceasefire.

Over the past seven months, at least 34,735 Palestinians have been killed, the vast majority of whom are civilians. Women and children make up over 70% of the dead. Thousands more are missing, most trapped under the rubble of their former homes and communities and presumed dead. Whole extended families have been wiped out.

Attacks on healthcare facilities have killed at least 493 medical personnel and hundreds of patients in the hospitals: these are war crimes and must stop immediately. Provision of food, water and medicines by UN and international organisations has been impeded throughout, and famine is spreading from north to south. Emergency medical and humanitarian personnel must be permitted to enter and move freely throughout the Strip. Furthermore, in concert with Egypt and the international community, Israel must immediately implement a routine medical evacuation process to ensure access to healthcare for the injured, elderly and those with chronic medical conditions; already at least 11.000 cannot be cared for in Gaza.

We demand that the EU protects Palestinian civilians, especially health workers and medical staff and uses all the tools it has at its disposal, including military and economic sanctions on Israel, and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement for grave violations of Article 2, and in line with ICJ-mandated provisional measures.