Escalating Israel-Gaza Conflict: International Pressure, Hospital Attacks, and Humanitarian Concerns

An Israeli tank manoeuvres inside the Gaza Strip. CREDIT: AP

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza has reached a critical juncture, drawing increased international attention and condemnation. As the death toll rises and fighting intensifies, pressure is mounting on Israel to take greater measures to protect Palestinian civilians, particularly around hospitals. In the past five weeks, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has surpassed 11,000, according to Gaza health officials.

In response to the conflict, the United States and France are among the nations urging Israel to do more to safeguard Palestinian civilians. The death toll from a Hamas attack on southern Israeli communities on October 7 has been revised down to about 1200, as reported by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Despite international concern, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends that world leaders should condemn Hamas, not Israel, stating that the crimes committed by Hamas in Gaza could potentially occur anywhere in the world.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his strongest comments to date on civilian suffering, expressed concern over the high number of Palestinians killed. While welcoming the four-hour humanitarian Israeli pauses, he emphasized that more action is needed to protect Gaza’s civilians. French President Emmanuel Macron also weighed in, calling on Israel to halt its bombings in Gaza, condemning both Hamas’ actions and underscoring Israel’s right to protect itself.

The conflict has taken a toll on various sectors, with more than 100 United Nations employees reported dead, making it the deadliest conflict ever for the UN in such a short period. The Committee to Protect Journalists confirmed the deaths of at least 40 journalists and media workers, with concerns raised about press freedom in the region.

Hospitals in Gaza City have faced intensified attacks, with reports of explosions and gunfire near overcrowded facilities. Al-Buraq school, serving as a shelter for those whose homes were destroyed, was hit in Israeli airstrikes, resulting in at least 25 casualties. Israel has claimed that Hamas uses hospital basements for military purposes, potentially compromising their protected status.

The international community, represented by the UN and the World Health Organization, has condemned the attacks on hospitals and expressed concerns about the humanitarian challenges facing Gaza. Hospitals, already struggling with shortages of medical supplies, clean water, and fuel, are now further strained as medical staff are forced to evacuate due to security risks, leaving behind displaced people, patients, and wounded individuals.

In response to the crisis, countries like Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have announced initiatives. Indonesia plans to send a hospital ship to the waters near Gaza to assist victims, while Saudi Arabia will host an extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit to address the situation in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

As the conflict continues, the international community faces the challenge of finding a diplomatic solution to halt the violence, protect civilians, and address the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the crisis. The complexities of the situation highlight the importance of international cooperation in fostering peace and stability in the region.