‘Israel’s Destruction of Gaza Health-Care is Systematic’ – Dr. Mads Gilbert

Norwegian humanitarian, Dr. Mads Gilbert. (Photo: Norah Tape, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

Dr. Gilbert, who has been traveling to occupied Palestine since 1989, said the disaster in Gaza is 100% man-made, planned and executed by the Israeli government.

Norwegian humanitarian, Dr. Mads Gilbert, says Israel has been systematically destroying the Palestinian health-care system in both Gaza and the West Bank over the years, and escalated it with the recent assault on the enclave. 

Addressing a media briefing on Monday in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Gilbert said the bombing of hospitals and ambulances has been a “systematic modus operandi” for the Israeli occupation forces.

An already Dire Situation

He said that at the beginning of the current onslaught, “the situation was dire.”Referencing a report by The Health Cluster – Occupied Palestinian Territory, a group of local and international NGOs and UN agencies, Dr. Gilbert explained that 34 of the 36 hospitals in Gaza, on October 8, were partially functional. Two hospitals were not functioning at all.

The hospitals were “partially functioning because the 16 years of siege on the Gaza Strip has had a major impact on healthcare” in the territory.

Dr. Gilbert said Israel would control “what gets through the fence, and they delay it for almost a year,” whether it is medication or spare parts for hospital equipment such as X-ray or oxygen machines.

The report shows that by November 14, there were 27 hospitals that had ceased to function, and nine were partially functioning. At least 198 healthcare workers have been killed in the same period, including 31 doctors, 68 nurses, and 20 paramedics.

A Disaster Planned by Israel

Dr. Gilbert, who has been traveling to occupied Palestine since 1989, said the disaster in Gaza is 100% man-made, planned and executed by the Israeli government.

Unlike other armed conflicts, he said, the international community is not allowed to enter Gaza.

“The ICRC and other international NGOs are present in Ukraine, they can travel as they like, they can supply relief. But Gaza is completely sealed off by the same forces that are bombing and destroying their health care. This is an unprecedented situation in history,” he stressed.

He said those attacking the civilian population are also keeping the humanitarian support out, “and this has been so commonplace for so long. It is completely unacceptable.” 

Israel allowed a joint UN assessment team led by the WHO into the Al-Shifa hospital on Saturday.

Dr. Gilbert said “it’s a disgrace” that the team was only granted access 41 days into the onslaught. “And for one hour only.”

Distraction and Misinformation

Dr. Gilbert criticized the media’s “preoccupation” with whether Al-Shifa hospital is a military command center for the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas. 

“It has been a distraction from the most important facts; namely, that under the smokescreen of the discussion of Al-Shifa, they have systematically destroyed healthcare in the whole of Gaza. There is virtually no standing hospital health-care left.”

He said that in the 20 years he has worked at Al-Shifa he has “never seen a command center, [nor] any high ranking political leader in Hamas or Jihad. I’ve been taking photographs, opening any door I want.”

The report further documents attacks on health care, that include ambulances, health care workers and supply lines. There were 152 of these attacks in Gaza, and 158 in the West Bank.

“Anyone who thinks this is about Al-Shifa and some stupid command center, forget it. This is about hiding the fact that the Israeli army systematically attacks health care.”

Dr. Gilbert said to attack and destroy health care is to take hope away from people.

“It’s a well-known military tactic. If the soldiers don’t know that there is a military hospital or medic in the group, they don’t want to fight because they want to be taken care of,” he added.

This is both an attack on the whole structure of society for the Palestinians but also an attack on what keeps hope alive for Palestinians, he said.

Dr. Gilbert said time is critical and called on “everyone, regardless of profession, to do more to put pressure on our governments to support the Palestinian situation.”

Dr. Gilbert is on a speaking tour of South Africa, representing the Norwegian aid committee, NORWAC.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israel has, thus far, killed over 13,300 Palestinians, including 5,600 children and 3,550 women. More than 31,000 Palestinians were wounded.

The Israeli army continues to pound civilian homes throughout the Gaza Strip with new massacres reported everywhere in the besieged enclave.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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1 Comment

  1. Information emerging recently that Israel Apache helicopters had contributed to the deaths of civilians at the Nova music festival and a survivor from the Kibbutz, had reported Israeli tanks had shelled the homes and had killed some of their own. How do we get this information out there for clarification on how many civilians were killed by their own forces? This war on Gaza could very well be a partial lie and a smoke screen! I am trying to contact as many people as I can to stop this slaughter! I am hoping you can point me in the right direction? I do have a copy of the Kibbutz survivors name and what she said also a news report from Haaretz news about the festival attack.

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