World faces days of “moral decay” as Israel bulldozes hospital grounds, detains more doctors

Israel carries out unprecedented attacks against health workers and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, bulldozing hospital grounds and detaining doctors

December 19, 2023 by Ana Vračar
Al-Awda Hospital Manager Dr. Ahmed Muhanna was arrested by Israeli Forces on December 17, 2023 and his whereabouts are unknown. Photo: People's Health Movement

“Moral decay,” as Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) put it, is possibly the best way to summarize the past weekend of Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) attacks on health in the Gaza Strip. Days of unimaginable horrors haunt health workers, patients, and displaced people in Gaza’s hospitals as violent raids and sieges of health centers continue over 70 days into Israel’s war on Gaza.

On Saturday, December 16, reports came in about Israeli bulldozers crushing those staying in tents on the grounds of Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza. The raid turned the area into a mass grave, leaving many more injured behind. Soon after the event, Mai al-Kaila, Palestinian Health Minister, called for an urgent probe into the event.

Not only did the Israeli occupation bulldoze living people, but they also “released dogs on us in the courtyard of Kamal Adwan Hospital, and they mauled a wounded person before his martyrdom,” said the Ministry of Health’s statement.

Around the time the ministry’s statement was published, there were still 12 babies in the incubators of Kamal Adwan who health staff could not reach, leaving the infants without food.

The Israeli occupation announced it had detained dozens of people during the raid. According to reports, these also include health workers.

Health workers were detained and taken to unknown locations from Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalya, another health center that had been besieged for days. Among the 21 health workers who had been detained was Dr. Ahmed Muhanna, the director of the hospital, who had been one of the health staff to provide regular reports about the health situation in the Gaza Strip. All the health workers except for Dr. Muhanna were released after a three-hour interrogation, but the hospital director’s current location remains unknown.

A week ago, Dr. Muhanna reported that the situation in the hospital was “critical,” with the hospital under complete siege and snipers having shot two staff members. Shortly before he was taken away by the IOF, Dr. Muhanna had reassured media that the hospital staff remained steadfast and in high spirits despite the siege.

Read more: As attacks on hospitals in Gaza intensify, health workers remain steadfast

Among other hospitals attacked were the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, and Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa. Bombs damaged the maternity ward at Nasser Medical Complex, killing one and injuring at least ten. A new mission led by the WHO visited Al-Shifa on December 16, delivering much-needed supplies. The team found a “hospital in need of resuscitation.”

According to their report, there are no blood supplies at Al-Shifa, meaning that no surgical interventions can take place, and supplies needed for pain management are also virtually non-existent. The WHO described the “emergency department as a ‘bloodbath’, with hundreds of injured patients inside, and new patients arriving every minute.”

“Patients with trauma injuries were being sutured on the floor,” the WHO reported, and “care must be exercised not to step on patients on the floor.”

On December 17, news came in that Hani Al-Haitham, the head of Al-Shifa’s emergency department, was killed in an Israeli attack, along with his wife, Dr. Sameera Ghifari, and their children.

Together with the increasing risk of the spread of infectious diseases and food deprivation, the escalating attacks against health services and health workers in Palestine are making Gaza completely unlivable, providing further evidence of the genocidal intention behind Israeli attacks.

People’s Health Dispatch is a fortnightly bulletin published by the People’s Health Movement and Peoples Dispatch. For more articles and subscription to People’s Health Dispatch, click here.