International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) can confirm further details of a near-fatal airstrike by the Israeli military on a residential compound housing our Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and members of MAP’s local team and their family members in Al Mawasi – the alleged ‘safe zone’ – in Gaza on 18 January, which caused injuries to several team members, significant damage to the building, and required the withdrawal of the six international members of the EMT from Gaza.

Since then, an independent assessment by the UN has concluded that the damage was the result of an airstrike, most likely involving a GBU32 (MK83) missile package. The Israeli military is the only armed actor in Gaza with access to this weaponry. The compound had been submitted to the deconfliction process that is meant to provide added protection for humanitarian personnel. British Government personnel had also confirmed on 22 December that the compound was registered as a ‘sensitive site’. The IRC and MAP condemn this unacceptable attack, which is one of many on health and related facilities. We need to know the facts as to why this airstrike took place and receive assurances of non-recurrence. We further demand that our colleagues in Gaza, their families and all civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza be protected from further attack.

This incident comes in the context of more than 100 days of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has caused massive civilian death and injury. Hospitals, shelters, UN buildings and other protected sites have been repeatedly hit - specifically 300 attacks on healthcare facilities - and more than 26,000 people have been killed including more than 300 Palestinian health workers.

The IRC and MAP repeat that it is the responsibility of all parties to the conflict to uphold the protection of civilians, as obligated by international humanitarian law. We remain committed to serve the humanitarian imperative according to principles of impartiality, neutrality, and independence by delivering essential life-saving services to civilians who continue to bear the brunt of the fighting. At the moment this is a losing battle, however, as no person or place is safe in Gaza.

As a result of the attack, the EMT – comprising MAP and IRC surgeons and other essential staff – was forced to suspend its life-saving medical work at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. Nasser Hospital is one of the few remaining functioning hospitals in Gaza, and is currently encircled by the Israeli military; access for medical teams and wounded civilians is nearly impossible. We remain concerned for the continued safety of MAP’s colleagues in Gaza, many of whom have been displaced again in recent days.

The IRC and MAP repeat our demand for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza to prevent further harm to civilians and to allow our teams to access and assist those in desperate need. International law prohibiting attacks on aid workers, civilians, and civilian infrastructure must also be upheld, and those responsible for violations held accountable.