Emergency Action: UK must demand accountability for attacks on Gaza health workers at UN Human Rights Council

Health workers and facilities, protected under International Humanitarian Law, have become increasingly under threat in conflicts around the world, including the devastating conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

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The UK has taken a principled stance internationally on this issue, and in 2016 supported UN Security Council Resolution 2286 which seeks to ensure that perpetrators of such attacks on humanitarian workers are held to account. To permit impunity where such violations occur makes further attacks on healthcare more likely.

In the past year in Gaza, three health workers - Musa Abu-Hassanin, Razan al-Najjar and Abdallah al-Qutati - have been shot dead by Israeli forces while trying to reach, treat and evacuate wounded demonstrators. A further 633 health workers have been injured by Israeli forces using live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on the protests has investigated this issue, and found “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers intentionally shot health workers, despite seeing that they were clearly marked as such.” Among the casualties was Dr Tarek Loubani, a Canadian-Palestinian emergency physician who was shot through his legs while working at the protests on 14 May and who addressed the UN Human Rights Council to share his testimony on Monday.

This week at the Council, Member States including the UK will have an opportunity to support accountability for potential violations of international law in Gaza, including the attacks on health workers highlighted by the Commission of Inquiry. It is vital that countries like the UK take action to protect Palestinian health workers by supporting this resolution.

Time for action: Say no to dangerous double standards

Supporting accountability for attacks on healthcare in other countries but not the occupied Palestinian territory would set a dangerous double standard. The UK Government must send a clear message that there can be no impunity for attacks on healthcare, wherever they occur.

On Tuesday, we delivered a petition with over 7,000 signatures to Downing Street, to demand protection for Palestinian health workers. But we need your help to spread the word, too.

Please click the link below to send a tweet to Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and the UK Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva: ".@UKMissionGeneva @Jeremy_Hunt @foreignoffice UK must support UN Commission of Inquiry on #Gaza protests & accountability vote at #HRC40 https://ctt.ec/8zW85+"

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