Saturday, October 7, saw a new eruption of violence in Palestine and Israel. Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack against Israel to which Israel responded with bombing of the Gaza Strip. Viva Salud calls on the United Nations to protect civilians and end the violence by addressing its root causes: Israeli colonisation, illegal occupation and apartheid.
New escalation of violence
Saturday morning, October 7, marked the start of a new escalation of violence in Israel’s 75-year-old colonisation of Palestine when Hamas launched a large-scale military surprise attack against Israel, killing and injuring hundreds of Israeli civilians.
In a retaliatory attack, Israel began indiscriminately bombing Gaza from the air, land and sea, targeting residential areas and buildings. According to the Palestinian health ministry, those bombings have already killed nearly 500 Palestinian civilians. The United Nations says Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have displaced 123,000 people.
Our partner, AWDA (Al Awda Health and Community Association, formerly known as UHWC), works on the frontline with two hospitals and six primary health centres, providing 600,000 health services a year. Unfortunately, today, we learned about the terrible news of a staff member killed in an Israeli attack. AWDA fears a further escalation of violence and calls for the organisation’s support in its response to this emergency: “We expect the situation to escalate further in the coming hours and this calls for immediate humanitarian assistance to victims to save as many lives as possible. We are providing emergency medical assistance to the injured and doing everything possible to save the lives of innocent people.”
Response to 75 years of colonisation and apartheid
The military attack from Gaza comes as a surprise to many, but is a response to 75 years of Israeli colonisation, illegal occupation and apartheid. Along with many other organisations, Viva Salud has been warning for years about the consequences of the status quo and the unwillingness of the international community to address the root causes of the current situation in Palestine. It is high time to finally address this to prevent further bloodshed and violence.
Under the current far-right Israeli government, violence against the Palestinian population has increased sharply. 247 Palestinians were killed just this year. Jewish settlers, under the approving eye of the Israeli army and instigated by ultra-nationalist ministers, have attacked several Palestinian villages in recent months.
The near-total emptying of multiple West Bank areas from its Palestinian population shows how Israel’s slow but gradual process of ethnic cleansing is continuing apace, effectively annexing large swathes of the occupied territory for exclusive Jewish settlement. Arbitrary arrests, inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners and the demolition of Palestinian homes further make Palestinian life under occupation and apartheid impossible.
In the Gaza Strip, more than 2 million Palestinians, many of them refugees from the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine, are packed together in one of the most densely populated places on the planet, effectively living in a big open-air prison, with a 16-year-old Israeli blockade slowly strangling the population. 47% of the population is unemployed and 97% of the water is unfit for consumption. The population has electricity for less than 13 hours a day on average and 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza depend on international food aid to survive. In the past 15 years, Israel launched at least six large-scale military attacks against Gaza, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Disaster for Palestinian health
The impact on the healthcare and health of Palestinians in Gaza has been dramatic. There is an acute shortage of medicines, medical equipment and protective equipment for healthcare personnel because Israel has complete control over which goods go in and out of Gaza. Health centres are overloaded and their services are compromised by power cuts, checkpoints and roadblocks or bombings. The extreme increase in injured people in recent days is putting further pressure on hospitals and health centres. On Saturday, Israel bombed two hospitals, killing an ambulance driver and a nurse. According to the United Nations, occupied Palestinian territory is one of the most dangerous places for health workers.
Today’s bombing already destroyed the power lines that provide much of the power supply to the Gaza Strip. Currently, there is only an average of 4h of power per day. Our partner AWDA has recently acquired solar panels, but these are currently not in the capacity to cope with the current emergency. AWDA has to rely on electricity generators and needs a large amount of fuel to do so. Currently, AWDA has enough fuel to provide power for its health services for the next 4 days.
No justice, no peace
Viva Salud calls on the United Nations to take strong measures to stop the violence and protect the lives of civilians. Particular attention should be paid to international law and the Geneva Conventions. To find lasting peace, there must be justice. Without justice, there cannot be peace. For this, the root causes of the violence must be addressed immediately. There must be an end to Israeli colonisation, illegal occupation and apartheid so that Palestinians are treated as equal human beings.
Solidarity with AWDA
We launch an urgent appeal to our supporters to help us provide the necessary support to hospitals in the Gaza Strip, where residents are currently living in very uncertain and difficult times. Therefore, we call on people to donate and support our partner organisation AWDA. They are an indispensable player in the local Palestinian health sector. Follow the link for more info: https://vivasalud.koalect.com/en-GB/urgence-a-gaza.