Lasting wounds to the birthplace of gauze - Hindustan Times

Lasting wounds to the birthplace of gauze

Nov 10, 2023 10:51 PM IST

Gaza now needs the gauze of peace, care and understanding to cover its mortal wounds given by Israel.

Israel’s assault on Gaza is a story of unprecedented brutalities — but the attacks on hospitals are a new low for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claiming to avenge the Hamas attack of October 7.

Israel-Hamas War: Damaged buildings in the northern Gaza Strip.(AFP) PREMIUM
Israel-Hamas War: Damaged buildings in the northern Gaza Strip.(AFP)

The UN Security Council recognises attacks on schools and hospitals as one of the six grave violations in a conflict. Among more than 10,000 Palestinians killed, are at least 135 medical personnel. Most of these men and women were killed while on duty, many being paramedics in ambulances and inside hospitals. Ambulances and hospitals have been targeted by the IDF on the assumption that Hamas fighters may be present in them.

From October 7, 20 of the 35 hospitals in Gaza have gone out of service. More than 50 of the 75 primary health clinics in Gaza have shut down. All these hospitals have either been directly or indirectly hit by Israel’s assault.

As a doctor, I feel that hospital-based patient care is a very complex and “human-centric” phenomenon, also dependent on multiple social, economic and political factors. Hospitals are dependent on infrastructure logistics like electricity, water supply, sanitation, and roads. Water tanks and solar panels of the Rantisi Specialist Hospital for Children in Gaza were attacked three times in the last month, which emphasises the point that a hospital in a conflict zone can be rendered useless without actually bombing it to rubble.

Hospitals in conflict zones whether they are in Iraq, Yemen or Gaza, are in a way not only easy targets but it appears that targeting them is also a way to send a message of fear and death to the civilians. It is, therefore, no surprise that Israel reportedly pre-warned Gazans of a possible attack on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, which led to the death of more than 500 civilians. The Israeli forces have also ordered the evacuation of the Al Quds and Al Shifa hospitals on the pretext of these hospitals being safe havens for Hamas operatives.

To believe that a hospital can be evacuated like any other building is as impossible and imprudent an idea as it is to say that the sky is falling. A hospital has sick patients; patients connected to ventilators and dialysis machines or in intensive care cannot be shifted quickly even in normal times let alone in times of conflict.

During World War II, it is said Adolf Hitler directly ordered the bombing of the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in April 1944 as part of his mini blitz. The hospital bombing led to many casualties, momentarily crippling London’s health care system. Bombing hospitals is thus the most sinister of all evils and who would know it better than the Israelis, whose ancestors were at the receiving end of Hitler’s pernicious hate and brutalities?

According to an October 2023 report by Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC), a group of international non-governmental organisations working to protect health workers, services, and infrastructure across the world, there were nearly 2,000 incidents of violence against health care facilities last year, a 45% increase from the year before. This has a significant implication, particularly for the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

A simple analysis of the SHCC data means that there has been a drift in the moral positioning of nations vis-à-vis care for human life. Abject disregard for human life during a conflict is particularly strong among economically powerful nations. We still remember the huge loss of life in the US invasions of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, dubbed as “collateral damage”.

In Gaza, over 4,000 children have been killed in the current phase of the war. According to the Palestinian ministry of health, one child is killed and two injured every 10 minutes. Similar trends are seen in Russia’s war with Ukraine and other global conflict zones.

The current trend globally seems to be to shift the burden of conflict onto civilians and civilian welfare institutions like schools and hospitals. This is murder most foul. By bombing hospitals and killing hospital personnel, countries send a message to international bodies like the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) about their lack of interest in dialogue, jurisdiction and respect for peace. The common wound dressing material called gauze, derives its name from Gaza, where it was woven from a fine silk called gazzatum since the 13th century. Gaza now needs the gauze of peace, care and understanding to cover its mortal wounds given by Israel.

Shah Alam Khan is professor, department of orthopaedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The views expressed are personal

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Infographics & much more. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok sabha election 2024 voting live , Karnataka election 2024 live in Bengaluru , Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
Share this article
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On