Medic shot in Gaza returns to UN Human Rights Council to call for accountability

This week, emergency physician Dr Tarek Loubani, who was shot by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2018, returned to the UN Human Rights Council to highlight how international inaction to ensure accountability for attacks is keeping Palestinian health workers in the firing line.

Dr Loubani previously addressed the Council in 2019, months after he was shot through both legs while providing medical care to protesters at the ‘Great March of Return’ protests in Gaza. At that time, he warned UN Member States that: “When you here do not act meaningfully, it is more likely that injuries and deaths to medics occur.”

He returned with Medical Aid for Palestinians to the Council’s virtual meeting on 24 February 2021, to speak as part of an Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the findings of her report entitled Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory. This is the 46th regular session of the Human Rights Council.

Reflecting on the continuing issue of attacks on health workers even amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of accountability for perpetrators, Dr Loubani told Member States:

“I am one of the 810 health workers shot, wounded or killed during the 2018-2019 ‘Great March of Return’ protests in Gaza by Israeli forces.

“I addressed the Council two years ago and warned that without action from the international community, healthcare in the occupied Palestinian territory would continue to come under attack. Since that day, a further 169 health workers have come under attack.

“Member States must pursue accountability for attacks on medical personnel and facilities to ensure justice for victims, to deter further violence and to end impunity.”

You can also read Dr Loubani’s statement in full here.

MAP’s evidence to the Human Rights Council

Ahead of the Council session’s two main discussions on the human rights situation in the oPt, coming under Agenda Items 2 and 7, MAP also submitted two written statements detailing chronic impunity for attacks on Palestinian healthcare and barriers to the right to health in the oPt amid the pandemic, which you can read by clicking the embedded links.

MAP is particularly concerned that violations have continued against Palestinian health workers and facilities even amid the increased pressures of COVID-19. MAP’s recommends that UN Member States, including the UK, take the following urgent action to protect Palestinian healthcare:

1. Demand Israel abides by its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, as the occupying power in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;

2. Urge Israel to immediately end the illegal closure of Gaza and the separation between the Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;

3. Take steps through bilateral and multilateral aid assistance to reverse the de-development of healthcare in Gaza;

4. Pursue accountability for all suspected violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including attacks on medical personnel, in order to ensure justice for victims and deter repetition;

5. Independently monitor, assess and make public findings on the compliance of Israel’s internal investigations with the core international standards of independence, impartiality, thoroughness, effectiveness, transparency and promptness; and the extent to which these investigations have resulted in legal accountability and justice for victims, survivors and their families; and

6. Support efforts to strengthen compliance with international law regarding the protection of healthcare personnel and infrastructure, including through monitoring the compliance ensuring respect for UN Security Council resolution 2286 (2016) on healthcare in armed conflict.

To learn more about chronic impunity for attacks on Palestinian healthcare, read our report here.

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