Amnesty says Israel targeted Gaza hospitals

Amnesty International says it has found evidence of Israel targeting hospitals and medical facilities in the Gaza Strip during its 29-day Operation Protective Edge in the coastal territory.

In a report released today, the rights group says that evidence and testimonies gathered from doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers in the Gaza Strip paints “a disturbing picture of hospitals and health professionals coming under attack by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, where at least six medics have been killed.”

Citing Hamas statistics claiming “at least six ambulance workers and at least 13 other aid workers” had been killed by Israeli shelling, Amnesty says it has “received reports that the Israeli army has repeatedly fired at clearly marked ambulances with flashing emergency lights and paramedics wearing recognizable fluorescent vests while carrying out their duties.”

The group says the state of Gaza’s hospitals, which was “acute before the current hostilities” due to the blockade on the Gaza Strip, has now been “seriously exacerbated.”

While the group acknowledges reports that Gazan terrorists had fired rockets from hospital premises, it adds, “Amnesty International has not been able to confirm any of these reports. While the use of medical facilities for military purposes is a severe violation of international humanitarian law, hospitals, ambulances and medical facilities are protected and their civilian status must be presumed.”

It adds that “hospitals and medical facilities must never be forced to evacuate patients under fire,” warning that the Israeli attacks “may constitute ‘wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,’ a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime.”

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