Gaza health system 'completely obliterated': UN expert

General |Author: AFP | April 22, 2024, Monday @ 20:25| 2138 views

Palestinians walk on a road lined with destroyed buildings in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 22, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

Israel's war in Gaza has from the start been a "war on the right to health" and has "obliterated" the Palestinian territory's health system, a UN expert said on Monday.

Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, accused Israel of treating human rights as an "a la carte menu".

Just days into the war that has been raging in Gaza since Hamas's unprecedented attacks inside Israel on October 7, "the medical infrastructure was irreparably damaged", she told reporters in Geneva.

Amid the unrelenting Israeli bombardment of Gaza, healthcare providers had for months been working under dire conditions with very limited access to medical supplies, she said.

"This has been a war on the right to health from the beginning," said Mofokeng, who is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

"The health system in Gaza has been completely obliterated and the right to health has been decimated at every level".

There has been growing global opposition to Israel's offensive in Gaza, which has turned vast areas of the densely populated territory into rubble and sparked a dire humanitarian crisis including warnings of famine.

The Israeli offensive began after the October 7 attack, which killed 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

- 'Intentionally imposing famine' -

Its hospitals, which are protected under international humanitarian law, have repeatedly come under attack.

Israel has accused Hamas of using them as command centres and to hold hostages abducted on October 7, claims denied by the militants.

On Sunday, Gaza's civil defence said its teams had discovered 50 bodies buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza's main southern city of Khan Yunis.

And the World Health Organization said earlier this month that Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, had been reduced to ashes by an Israeli siege, leaving an "empty shell" with many bodies.

"The destruction of healthcare facilities continues to catapult to proportions yet to be fully quantified," said Mofokeng, a medical doctor from South Africa.

The expert said she had received no response from Israel to the concerns she had raised about the situation, and that she had not been able to visit the Palestinian territory, nor Israel.

But she said it was obvious that Israel was "killing and causing irreparable harm against Palestinian civilians with its bombardments".

"They are also knowingly and intentionally imposing famine, prolonged malnutrition and dehydration", the expert added, accusing Israel of "genocide".

The current situation in Gaza, she said, "is completely incompatible with the right to health".

© Agence France-Presse


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