The United Nations Security Council must demand an immediate and sustained ceasefire, to lift the siege and ensure unrestricted aid to the entire Gaza Strip. To date, the inaction of the United Nations Security Council and vetoes from member states, particularly the United States, make them complicit in the ongoing slaughter; this inaction has given license to the mass killing of men, women and children.
Since the seven-day truce collapsed, we have witnessed a resumption of indiscriminate killing and of forced displacement at a staggering scale and intensity. In Al Aqsa hospital alone, 1,149 patients were received in the emergency from 1-7 December, 350 of whom were dead on arrival. On 6 December, the hospital received more dead patients than injured.
Our medical staff in the Gaza Strip have witnessed and treated the medical consequences of continued and systematic atrocities over the past eight weeks. Israel’s campaign of indiscriminate killing, denial of food and access to healthcare and repeated forced displacements made conditions for more than two million people unbearable. People are in the street, in the rain, there is little to no sanitation. We see significant increases in infectious diseases, including diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, skin infections, and outbreaks like hepatitis. Vital humanitarian aid must immediately be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip at scale.
“Today the supply of aid is performative – it’s nothing compared with the needs. Our colleagues feel helpless when they hear children tell them they would rather die than continue suffering. People are desperate for food because of the cruel siege imposed on them. There needs to be some chance of survival; our doctors can do nothing for the dead. Failure to act now, to enact a total ceasefire and end the siege would be unforgivable.”
- Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General of MSF International, Médecins Sans Frontières
Repeated assurances from both the United States and Israel that this war is being waged on combatants alone, runs counter to what we see on the ground. On the contrary, this is a total war that doesn't spare civilians.
In Al Nasser hospital, Khan Younis, MSF teams were forced to leave the hospital on the evening of 4 December, due to the intensity of bombardments around the hospital. Some Ministry of Health staff have also decided to leave, fearing they will fall prey to the same violence enacted on hospitals in northern Gaza. The weekend before leaving Nasser, our colleagues saw wave after wave of mass casualties admitted.
The hospital received 5,166 wounded, and 1,468 patients who were declared dead on arrival since 7 October. Seventy per cent of the dead were women and children. The evacuation orders sent by Israel create panic. People have nowhere to go; they have been bombed in the north, south and at the Rafah border.
This cruel system does not spare civilians.
We despair at the intransigence of the Government of Israel, and their apparent refusal to engage with or acknowledge the scale of human suffering in Gaza. Temporary truces, humanitarian pauses, and the trickle of aid that has so far been allowed in, have been insultingly insufficient. The damage that has been done will require years of humanitarian support to alleviate – the scale of loss however, and the accompanying grief, may never be assuaged. One thing is clear - a scale-up in humanitarian assistance cannot be achieved without a ceasefire.
Today, the United Nations Security Council must demand an immediate and sustained ceasefire, and lift the siege. This responsibility falls to each member – history will judge the delay in ending this slaughter; basic humanity demands action.