Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories: Rescind Evacuation Order Against Gaza Hospitals
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of 22 October, over 4,650 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza including 1,873 children, and over 14,245 wounded during the ongoing Israeli strikes that began on 7 October 2023. OCHA also estimated that over 1.4 million people have been internally displaced since the outbreak of the recent hostilities.
In the early hours of 13 October, the Israeli army issued an initial announcement ordering more than 1.1 million people living north of Wadi Gaza have to leave for the south within a day. Regardless of the deadline, which even the Israeli army acknowledged was not feasible, this order cannot be considered an effective warning and may amount to the forced displacement of civilians, a violation of international humanitarian law. The subsequent order to hospitals to forcibly evacuate should be seen in the context of these threats of forced displacement.
“Evacuating this hospital is virtually impossible since moving patients from the Intensive Care Unit, moving the incubated newborn babies, the injured who number more than fifty, is just impossible,” a doctor at Al-Quds hospital, one of the 23 hospitals threatened with forced evacuation which is also sheltering over 8,000 IDPs, told Amnesty International.
Israel cannot consider the whole of the Gaza Strip, including its hospitals and civilian infrastructure, a military target. Doctors, nurses, and medical staff in Gaza have been heroically working to save people’s lives, working amid unthinkable horror. Many of them have lost family members, friends and colleagues but are persevering in providing their services while under attack in an awe-inspiring commitment to humanity.
As such, Israeli authorities must respect international humanitarian law, including by immediately rescinding forced evacuation orders against hospitals and allowing the prompt and unconditional supply of humanitarian aid and medical supplies into Gaza. Israeli authorities must also resume the supply of water and fuel into Gaza as an initial step towards ending the collective punishment measures that for the last 16 years they have imposed on the civilian population.