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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Gives United Nations Chilling Account of Destruction in Gaza

Destroyed hospital in Gaza, Credit: WHO X page

Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, delivered an absolutely gut-wrenching briefing—one that must be watched, not just read—on conditions in Gaza yesterday to the UN Security Council, one which should cause any American to blanche at the Biden Administration’s continuing to run interference on behalf of Israeli genocide against the Palestinians.

Lockyear began with a graphic description of the destruction of a family home, where MSF staff were sheltering, by an Israeli tank shell that killed two and badly wounded six others, five of whom were women and children. “Israeli forces have attacked our convoys, detained our staff, and bulldozed our vehicles, and hospitals have been bombed and raided. Now, for a second time, one of our staff shelters has been hit. This pattern of attacks is either intentional or indicative of reckless incompetence,” he said.

Lockyear, among other things, also pointed to the destruction of the health system in Gaza: “There is no health system to speak of left in Gaza. Israel’s military has dismantled hospital after hospital. What remains is so little in the face of such carnage. It is preposterous. The excuse given is that medical facilities have been used for military purposes, yet we have seen zero independently verified evidence of this….

“Our patients have catastrophic injuries, amputations, crushed limbs, and severe burns. They need sophisticated care. They need long and intensive rehabilitation. Medics cannot treat these injuries on a battlefield or in the ashes of destroyed hospitals. There are not enough hospital beds, not enough medications, and not enough supplies. Surgeons have had no choice but to carry out amputations without anesthesia, on children.

“Our surgeons are running out of basic gauze to stop their patients from bleeding out. They use it once, squeeze out the blood, wash it, sterilize it, and reuse it for the next patient. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has left pregnant women without medical care for months. Women in labor cannot reach functional delivery rooms. They are giving birth in plastic tents and public buildings.

“Medical teams have added a new acronym to their vocabulary: WCNSF— wounded child, no surviving family.

“Children who survive this war will not only bear the visible wounds of traumatic injuries but the invisible ones, too—those of repeated displacement, constant fear, and witnessing family members literally dismembered before their eyes. These psychological injuries have led children as young as five to tell us they would prefer to die.”

Then Lockyear turned to what the Security Council must do: “Meeting after meeting, resolution after resolution, this body has failed to effectively address this conflict. We have watched members of this Council deliberate and delay while civilians die. We are appalled by the willingness of the United States to use its powers as a permanent Council member to obstruct efforts to adopt the most evident of resolutions: one demanding an immediate and sustained ceasefire. Three times this Council has had an opportunity to vote for the ceasefire that is so desperately needed and three times the United States has used its veto power, most recently this Tuesday [Feb. 20]. A new draft resolution by the United States ostensibly calls for a ceasefire. However, this is misleading at best.

“This Council should reject any resolution that further hampers humanitarian efforts on the ground and leads this Council to tacitly endorse the continued violence and mass atrocities in Gaza. The people of Gaza need a ceasefire not when ‘practicable,’ but now. They need a sustained ceasefire, not a ‘temporary period of calm.’ Anything short of this is gross negligence.

“The protection of civilians in Gaza cannot be contingent on resolutions from this Council which instrumentalize humanitarianism to blur political objectives. The protection of civilians, of civilian infrastructure, of health workers and health facilities, falls first and foremost on the parties to the conflict. But it is also a collective responsibility—a responsibility which rests with this Council and its individual members, as parties to the Geneva Conventions.

“The consequences of casting international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate well beyond Gaza. It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience.”