Mourners in Gaza

Mourners gather next to the body of a person killed in Israeli airstrikes on the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip on December 2, 2023.

(Photo: Mohammed Talatene/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

Doctors Without Borders Tells Key UN Body to Stop 'Absolute Horror' in Gaza

"Israel has shown a blatant and total disregard for the protection of Gaza's medical facilities. We are watching as hospitals are turned into morgues and ruins."

The international president of Doctors Without Borders on Monday pleaded with members of the United Nations Security Council to do everything in their power to halt the Israeli military's expanding assault on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 15,000 people in less than two months and decimated the territory's healthcare system.

In an open letter, Dr. Christos Christou wrote that "words fail us to describe the absolute horror being inflicted on Palestinian civilians by Israel as it carries out incessant and indiscriminate warfare in Gaza for all the world to see."

"Israel has shown a blatant and total disregard for the protection of Gaza's medical facilities. We are watching as hospitals are turned into morgues and ruins," he continued. "These supposedly protected facilities are being bombed, are being shot at by tanks and guns, encircled, and raided, killing patients and medical staff... Medical staff, including our own, are utterly exhausted and in despair. They have had to amputate limbs from children suffering from severe burns without anesthesia or sterilized surgical tools."

Hundreds of medical workers, including four Doctors Without Borders staff members, have been killed in Israel's weekslong attack on Gaza. Following a seven-day pause that ended last week, Israel began broadening its ground offensive and bombardment to include swaths of southern Gaza—where many fled in response to Israeli evacuation orders in the north.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Sunday that the country's ground assault now encompasses "all of the Gaza Strip," leaving desperate Gazans—including many children—with virtually nowhere safe to go.

"The only solution is an immediate and sustained cease-fire and the unrestricted supply of aid to the entirety of the Gaza Strip."

Since the end of the pause, Gaza hospitals supported by Doctors Without Borders—also known as Médecins Sans Frontières—have been "barely able to cope with the influx of patients," the group said in a statement Monday as Israel continued to hammer the besieged enclave, bombing hundreds of targets including a school that the IDF claimed contained "terror infrastructure." The IDF did not provide evidence to support the claim.

"In a military campaign that has lasted weeks, with only a brief respite, the speed and scale of the bombing continue to plumb the depths of brutality," said Chris Hook, Doctors Without Borders' medical coordinator in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza. "Almost 2 million people are left without options. The only solution is an immediate and sustained cease-fire and the unrestricted supply of aid to the entirety of the Gaza Strip."

Christou wrote in the group's new open letter that while Israel claims to be targeting Hamas in retaliation for the group's deadly October 7 attack, Israeli forces are in reality waging war "on all of Gaza and its people at any cost."

Nearly 80% of Gaza's population has been internally displaced, and U.N. experts warned last month that "time is running out to prevent genocide" in the strip.

"Thus far, world leaders, including permanent members of the Security Council, have been complicit, either by providing Israel with diplomatic cover, by supplying Israel with seemingly unconditional military assistance, or by failing to help stem the relentless bloodshed and atrocities being committed in Gaza," Christou lamented.

"It is time," he added, "to choose whether the council will continue issuing half-hearted calls for the respect of international law and the protection of civilians, or will fulfill its international peace and security mandate and exercise its full diplomatic leverage to convince the state of Israel that the death sentence it has handed the people of Gaza is inhumane, indefensible, and cannot continue to be carried out."

In the nearly two months since Israel launched its latest bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip, the U.N. Security Council has been largely deadlocked, passing just one resolution that called for the release of hostages and humanitarian pauses.

The U.S., one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, vetoed an earlier resolution calling for humanitarian pauses because the measure "made no mention of Israel's right of self-defense."

Christou urged the council to immediately "take action to uphold our shared humanity."

"'We did what we could. Remember us.' These are the words our Dr. Mahmoud Abu Nujaila, who has since been killed in a hospital strike, wrote on a Gaza hospital whiteboard normally used for planning surgeries," Christou wrote. "When the guns fall silent and the true scale of devastation is revealed, will the council and its members be able to say the same?"

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