“Many people can hardly believe that they have survived”

Amid the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, including deliberate attacks on Palestinian homes and health facilities, Fikr Shalltoot, Medical Aid for Palestinians’ (MAP) Director of Programmes in Gaza, reflects on a deadly past 24 hours.

It is difficult to find the words to describe what the two million people in Gaza have witnessed over the last few days. Last night was one of the most terrible nights and brings back devastating memories of Israel’s offensive on Gaza in 2014. Many people can hardly believe that they have survived this latest attack.

The airstrikes, tank shelling and navy firing have targeted residential buildings, including an apartment block close to our office in Gaza which was destroyed yesterday evening. Just last night, at least seven Palestinians were killed and 36 were injured. The deliberate targeting of civilian homes and crowded residential neighborhoods is a form of collective punishment and is having a severe psychological impact on people.

Six residential towers were informed to evacuate in preparation for destruction; Al Jawhara Tower was attacked during the night but is still standing and, as reported yesterday, Hanadi Tower collapsed after being targeted.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health have raised concerns of the deliberate attacking and levelling of the Hala Al Shawwa primary health care centre in northern Gaza. This is particularly worrying as the centre has been providing COVID-19 tests and vaccinations for citizens in Gaza, where the health sector is already in crisis.

“Heavy bombardment is going on right now”

According to the UN Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS), between 21.30 last night and 06.00 this morning, 45 air raids were conducted and 85 missiles were fired into Gaza. In addition, 18 tank shells and 23 navy shells targeted Gaza.

Since this morning, the number of raids has significantly increased, and media are reporting that all of the security buildings in Gaza City and Khan Younis have been totally destroyed. Gaza’s Health Ministry has indicated that their hospitals have received more than 320 injuries and 53 bodies, including 14 children and three women. Heavy bombardment is ongoing right now.

Deliberate Israeli attacks on civilian homes and health facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law. We urge the international community to take immediate action to stop Israel’s targeting of residential buildings and medical facilities.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is responding to the current emergency across occupied Palestine. Please give an urgent donation today.

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Photo: Crews of the Palestinian Civil Defence inspect the industrial facilities hit by Israeli jets on the east of the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, May 10, 2021, Gaza, Palestine. (Credit: Alamy Stock Photo).

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