The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is appalled by yesterday’s attack on an ambulance approaching Al Aqsa Hospital. Our deepest condolences go out to the Palestine Red Crescent Society who lost 4 staff members in the attack. 

Just last week the IRC and Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) were working to treat trauma injuries and save lives at Al Aqsa Hospital, the last remaining lifeline for people in middle Gaza injured by Israel’s ongoing bombardment. Since the IRC and MAP Emergency Medical Team were forced to evacuate last weekend, Al Aqsa Hospital is close to becoming another non functional hospital in Gaza. According to OCHA only one emergency doctor and two surgeons remain to respond to hundreds of patients who require treatment at the hospital. 

Bob Kitchen, Vice President of Emergencies at the IRC, said,

“There is no justification for attacking an ambulance carrying wounded civilians. Medical facilities must be allowed to exercise their humanitarian, lifesaving function without interference. Hospitals, medical staff and civilians are all protected under international law. That protection must be strictly upheld, and safe access for humanitarians must be guaranteed across all of Gaza.

Right now, across Gaza, the health sector finds itself on life support. Hospitals, ambulances, medical staff all continue to come under fire. Today, only 15 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are partially functional, while over 2 million people face the triple threat of conflict, disease and starvation. Without an urgent end to the conflict tens of thousands more are likely to die."

The IRC is calling for an immediate and sustained ceasefire, adherence to international law, and the protection of civilians, hospitals, the sick and the wounded.