By Julia Conley
“Israeli doctors who signed a letter promoting [the] bombing of hospitals with patients inside have committed a betrayal to their noble profession and bear responsibility,” said a group of doctors in Gaza.
6 Nov 2023 – Physicians who have been working for four weeks to save as many lives as possible from Israel’s “complete siege” of Gaza, even as the healthcare system collapses around them, responded on Monday to a statement by a group of Israeli doctors who over the weekend called for the bombing of a hospital in the besieged territory.
“We as doctors are ambassadors of peace. We save lives,” said the doctors, led by Dr. Marwan Shafiq Al-Ham, director of Muhammad Yusuf Al-Najjar Hospital, in a statement. “Israeli doctors who signed a letter promoting [the] bombing of hospitals with patients inside have committed a betrayal to their noble profession and bear responsibility.”
The medical providers called on the World Health Organization and human rights groups that work in the healthcare field to help hold the signers of the letter accountable.
The weekend letter was signed by about 100 members of a group called Doctors for the Rights of Israeli Soldiers and was first reported Sunday by the Israeli outlet HaMedash.
The doctors claimed the bombing of al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza, was a “legitimate right” of Israel because it serves as a base for “Palestinian armed groups.”
“The residents of Gaza saw fit to turn hospitals into terrorist nests to take advantage of western morality, they are the ones who brought destruction upon themselves; terrorism must be eliminated everywhere,” reads the letter. “Attacking terrorist headquarters is the right and the duty of the Israeli army.”
An ambulance convoy outside the hospital was bombed last Friday, with Israel claiming an ambulance was carrying Hamas fighters. Officials at al-Shifa said the convoy was carrying wounded civilians to Egypt via the Rafah crossing for treatment, as medical supplies are running extremely low in Gaza.
At least 15 Palestinians were killed and 60 were injured in the bombing.
The signatories of the Israeli letter, said the doctors in Gaza, are “fully responsible if, God forbid, something happens to the hospitals.”
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which has led protests against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and has long called for an end to the country’s apartheid policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, said the doctors who signed the letter are “derelict in their duty” to protect human lives.
“We want to build a world that upholds the sanctity of life—equally, for everyone—not one that promotes the extermination of Palestinians,” said JVP. “And we won’t stop fighting until we get justice, for Palestinians and for all people.”
Al Jazeera journalist Sana Saeed said Israel’s bombing of hospitals and claims that they are terrorist targets has aimed to “dehumanize” medical workers as they’ve “put their lives on the line” for the more than 2 million people—about half of them children—who live in Gaza.
“We have sworn to protect human lives,” said the doctors in Gaza. “Therefore, it is not permissible to betray the oath and the profession.”
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
13 November 2023