Gaza Health System ‘Completely Obliterated’, Says UN Expert

02 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Gaza City: Palestinians inspect the damage at Al-Shifa Hospital complex, following a two-week military operation by the Israeli army in Gaza City. (dpa)
02 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Gaza City: Palestinians inspect the damage at Al-Shifa Hospital complex, following a two-week military operation by the Israeli army in Gaza City. (dpa)
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Gaza Health System ‘Completely Obliterated’, Says UN Expert

02 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Gaza City: Palestinians inspect the damage at Al-Shifa Hospital complex, following a two-week military operation by the Israeli army in Gaza City. (dpa)
02 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Gaza City: Palestinians inspect the damage at Al-Shifa Hospital complex, following a two-week military operation by the Israeli army in Gaza City. (dpa)

Israel's war in Gaza has from the start been a "war on the right to health" and has "obliterated" the Palestinian territory's health system, a UN expert said on Monday.

Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health, accused Israel of treating human rights as an "a la carte menu".

Just days into the war that has been raging in Gaza since Hamas's unprecedented attacks inside Israel on October 7, "the medical infrastructure was irreparably damaged", she told reporters in Geneva.

Amid the unrelenting Israeli bombardment of Gaza, healthcare providers had for months been working under dire conditions with very limited access to medical supplies, she said.

"This has been a war on the right to health from the beginning," said Mofokeng, who is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who does not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

"The health system in Gaza has been completely obliterated and the right to health has been decimated at every level".

There has been growing global opposition to Israel's offensive in Gaza, which has turned vast areas of the densely populated territory into rubble and sparked a dire humanitarian crisis including warnings of famine.

The Israeli offensive began after the October 7 attack, which killed 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

'Intentionally imposing famine'

Its hospitals, which are protected under international humanitarian law, have repeatedly come under attack.

Israel has accused Hamas of using them as command centers and to hold hostages abducted on October 7, claims denied by the gunmen.

On Sunday, Gaza's civil defense said its teams had discovered 50 bodies buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza's main southern city of Khan Younis.

And the World Health Organization said earlier this month that Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, had been reduced to ashes by an Israeli siege, leaving an "empty shell" with many bodies.

"The destruction of healthcare facilities continues to catapult to proportions yet to be fully quantified," said Mofokeng, a medical doctor from South Africa.

The expert said she had received no response from Israel to the concerns she had raised about the situation, and that she had not been able to visit the Palestinian territory, nor Israel.

But she said it was obvious that Israel was "killing and causing irreparable harm against Palestinian civilians with its bombardments".

"They are also knowingly and intentionally imposing famine, prolonged malnutrition and dehydration", the expert added, accusing Israel of "genocide".

The current situation in Gaza, she said, "is completely incompatible with the right to health".



US Military Pier Operations in Gaza Suspended after Piece Breaks Off

US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
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US Military Pier Operations in Gaza Suspended after Piece Breaks Off

US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)

A part of the US military's pier off Gaza has broken off, rendering it temporarily inoperable, two US officials said, in the latest blow to efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said bad weather was believed to be the reason that the part had broken off. They did not say how big the part was or speculate on how long it would take for the pier to resume operations.

The pier was announced by US President Joe Biden in March and involved the military assembling the floating structure off the coast. Estimated to cost $320 million for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 US service members, it went into operation two weeks ago.

Since the pier began operations, the United Nations has transported 137 trucks of aid from the pier - the equivalent of 900 metric tons - said a UN World Food Program (WFP) spokesperson.