Israel continues assault on Gaza as world shifts gaze to Iran

AFP , Ahram Online , Friday 19 Apr 2024

The Palestinian Health Ministry says 42 people were killed and 63 injured in the past 24 hours, as Israel bombarded Gaza for the 196th day in a row, targeting residential areas, while soldiers are being incited to attack Rafah ahead of an expected ground invasion.

Palestinian paramedics carry away bodies of dead people uncovered in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. AFP


The number of Palestinian casualties in Gaza has now surpassed 34,000 dead and 76,833 injured, according to the most recent toll on Friday.

According to UN Women, nearly one-third of the people killed in the Gaza conflict  – approximately 10,000 individuals – have been women. Among them, 6,000 were mothers, whose deaths have left 19,000 orphans.

Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in multiple areas in Jabalia, while Beit Hanoun and Rafah were subjected to artillery shelling.

The UN decried Friday the intentional destruction of complex and hard-to-obtain medical equipment in Gaza's beleaguered hospitals and maternity wards.

Recent UN-led missions to 10 Gaza hospitals found many "in ruins" and just a couple capable of providing any level of maternal health services, said Dominic Allen, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) representative for the State of Palestine.

He said that what the teams found at the Nasser Hospital complex, long besieged by Israeli forces during their operations in the southern city of Khan Younis, "breaks my heart."

Speaking to journalists in Geneva via video link from Jerusalem, he described seeing "medical equipment purposefully broken, ultrasounds -- which you will know, is a very important tool for helping ensure safe births -- with cables that have been cut".

"Screens of complex medical equipment, like ultrasounds and others with the screens smashed," he added.

The World Health Organization has described the difficulty of bringing such equipment into Gaza even before the current war erupted.

Meanwhile at Al-Khair, another specialized maternity hospital in Khan Younis, "it didn't seem as if there was any piece of working medical equipment," he said, lamenting that the birthing rooms "stand silent."

"They should be a place of giving life and they just have an eerie sense of death."

Only 10 of Gaza's 36 hospitals are currently even partially functioning.

Allen said that only three of those were now capable of assisting the estimated 180 women giving birth across Gaza every single day -- around 15 percent of whom suffer complications requiring significant care.

The hospitals that can provide such care are thus facing significant capacity constraints.

The Emirati Hospital in the south, which is the main maternity hospital in Gaza currently, is supporting up to 60 births every single day, including as many as 12 caesarian sections, he said.

Given the heavy pressure on the facility, women are discharged just hours after giving birth, "and after C-sections, it is less than a day," Allen said, stressing "that increases risks."

Videos also surfaced online showing Israeli airstrikes targeting residential buildings in Gaza. 



The damage done to the infrastructure in Gaza is estimated to cost $18.5 billion according to a UN World Bank Report. 

All schools in Gaza have been closed for the past six months, depriving 625,000 students of education. 

Disturbing statistics from the Ministry of Education reveal that since 7 October, more than 5,479 students and 261 teachers have lost their lives in the Gaza Strip. 

Moreover, the Education Cluster estimates that 87.7 percent of all school buildings in Gaza have suffered damage or destruction, with 212 schools severely hit and another 282 sustaining varying degrees of damage. 

Every university in Gaza has been destroyed.

Satellite images obtained by the Education Cluster provide shocking evidence of the extensive bombardment on hundreds of schools. 

These attacks directly violate international humanitarian law, which grants schools general protection against such assaults.


An Israeli officer has also been recorded inciting soldiers to prepare for an attack on Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip, drawing comparisons to previous military actions in other areas of Gaza.



The statement, "Like we did in Nuseirat, Zeitoun, Toffah, and at Al-Shifa," made by the Israeli occupation suggests that the level of destruction suffered by the rest of the Gaza strip will soon be seen in Rafah. 

More than 1.4 million Palestinians are crowded together in tent cities in Rafah, along the border with Egypt as Israeli officials have been making statements promising a ground invasion into Rafah.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking after a G7 summit in Italy reiterated US position on Israel's planned military offensive in Rafah, saying they cannot support "a major operation" in Rafah.

"We have been very clear about this, President Biden has been very clear about this. We cannot support a major military operation in Rafah," Blinken told during a press conference.

He said such a major military offensive would have "terrible consequences" for the displaced population in Rafah.

He added that even with Israel and Iran trading attacks, “we’ve remained intensely focused on Gaza” and addressing the humanitarian crisis there.

He urged Israel to quickly meet its “humanitarian commitments” in the enclave: “more aid, more crossings, better deconfliction, better distribution of the assistance to all who need it.”

“We need to see sustained results,” said Blinken.

Meanwhile, Hamas dismissed Antony Blinken’s claim that it is obstructing ceasefire talks.

“It is a confirmation of the American administration’s blatant bias towards Zionist fascism and a falsification of reality that confirms that whoever obstructs the course of negotiations for [Netanyahu’s] personal political calculations,” Hamas said in a statement.

“The only thing standing between [Palestinians in Gaza] and a ceasefire is Hamas,” Blinken claimed in his G7 remarks.

“The Hamas movement’s negotiating behaviour was based on the interest of our Palestinian people and the priority of stopping the brutal aggression against them, the withdrawal of the occupation, the return of the displaced, and ending their human suffering created by the American-funded killing machine,” Hamas said.

The resistance group added that if the US was sincere in wanting to stop the war in Gaza, it must pressure Israel “and stop the American political and military cover for the crimes of genocide and starvation practised by the Nazi occupation against defenceless civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

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