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Latest massacres in Gaza's Middle Area illustrate complete disregard for Palestinian lives

"The dehumanization of Palestinians has been a hallmark of this war."

Palestinians walk through smoke in the streets of Gaza.

Palestine 2024 © Ben Milpas/MSF

NEW YORK/JERUSALEM, June 11, 2024 — Since the beginning of June, more than 800 people have been killed and over 2,400 wounded in intense bombing and ground offensives by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, according to health authorities. The recent horrific attacks in Gaza’s Middle Area have led to unacceptable pain and suffering and illustrate a clear disregard for Palestinian lives, said Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today. 

Numerous military offensives in recent weeks have led to recurrent mass casualty influxes at MSF-supported medical facilities in Rafah and the Middle Area of Gaza. Israel must immediately halt these massacres, and Israel’s allies, including the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union member states, must do everything in their power to influence Israel to stop attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

“How can the killing of more than 800 people in a single week, including small children, and the maiming of hundreds more, be considered a military operation adhering to international humanitarian law?” said Brice de le Vingne, head of MSF’s emergency unit. “We can no longer accept the statement that Israel is taking ‘all precautions’—this is just propaganda.”

How can the killing of more than 800 people in a single week, including small children, and the maiming of hundreds more, be considered a military operation adhering to international humanitarian law?

Brice de le Vingne, head of MSF's emergency unit

According to local health authorities, 274 people were killed on June 8 alone. On that day, over 60 severely injured patients, including unconscious children, were referred to the MSF-supported Nasser Hospital. Meanwhile, at Al-Aqsa Hospital, MSF supported medical teams who received 420 wounded and 190 dead, again with many children among the casualties. Those admitted bore the hallmarks of intense strikes: dismemberment, severe trauma, burns, and open fractures.

Bodies uncovered from a mass grave at Nasser Hospital in Gaza
Identifying bodies uncovered from a mass grave at Nasser Hospital on April 22. Palestine 2024 © MSF

Earlier the same week, Israel repeatedly bombed so-called safe zones, refugee camps, a school, and multiple humanitarian warehouses, which were formally registered as ‘deconflicted’ by Israeli forces and were supposed to be safe places to shelter. Heavy strikes on June 4 in the Middle Area resulted in at least 70 deaths and over 300 wounded Palestinians, mostly women and children, who were brought to the MSF-supported Al-Aqsa Hospital with severe burns, shrapnel wounds, and fractures.

“Since October—and certainly before—the dehumanization of Palestinians has been a hallmark of this war,” de le Vingne said. “Catch-all phrases like ‘war is ugly’ act as blinders to the fact that children too young to walk are being dismembered, eviscerated, and killed.” 

Catch-all phrases like ‘war is ugly’ act as blinders to the fact that children too young to walk are being dismembered, eviscerated, and killed.

Brice de le Vingne, head of MSF's emergency unit

These attacks are the latest in a broad litany of atrocities and illustrate the type of war that Israel is fighting. Israel and its allies have repeatedly shown that there is no watershed moment or red line in this violence. The attacks now known as the flour massacre and the tent massacre—as well as the killing of aid workers and their families and the annihilation of hospitals and the health system more generally—have led to no more than weak diplomatic posturing, empty words, and staggering inaction.

On June 10, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote brought by the United States, requiring a ceasefire and the unfettered supply of humanitarian aid, was adopted. This ceasefire and the accompanying supply of aid must be facilitated immediately and, in contrast with previous and similar resolutions, be implemented with immediate effect. Failure to do so will cost more lives and be yet another stain on the collective conscience.

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Contrary to the repeated public communications of the Israeli authorities, humanitarian aid has been denied or severely impeded since October. The lack of essential medical supplies and equipment and bureaucratic delays in granting security and supply approval to establish field hospitals have made it nearly impossible for health workers to provide even basic health care. Field hospitals are only necessary because the health care system in Gaza has been systematically dismantled and they can in no way replace a robust and functional health care system. 

More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and more than 84,000 wounded, according to the Ministry of Health. The UNSC resolution of June 10 must be implemented without delay as safe zones are nonexistent in Gaza, International Humanitarian Law principles are not being upheld, and humanitarian aid is systematically being impeded. There must be an immediate and sustained ceasefire, and unfettered humanitarian aid must be allowed to enter Gaza at scale.

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