The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) extends its deep-felt concern and profound solidarity towards the populations affected by the current events between Israel and Palestine and condemns unfolding incidents.
The humanitarian emergency has persisted for the past 10 days, and with each passing minute, the number of innocent lives lost continues to rise, including the recent bombing of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital with reports of at least 500 deaths including patients and healthcare workers.. We are acutely aware of the devastating impacts being endured by civilians, especially medical students and healthcare workers, notably the extensive disruption of essential services and resources such as healthcare, food, water, electricity, internet and shelter, alongside the deeply troubling reports of violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and substantial damage to public health infrastructure. As observers of these heart-wrenching occurrences, we feel compelled to voice our distress and stand in unity with all individuals grappling with the repercussions of this crisis.
Reports from ReliefWeb  indicate a significant increase in casualties, with more than 1300 Israeli civilians and 2750 Palestinian civilians  losing their lives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip including more than 1000 children and 500 women. Acute shortage of medical supplies and full blockade of electricity and clean water has left thousands of people in Gaza unable to access emergency life-saving services, including neonates depending on incubators, stretching the Palestinian health system’s capacities to respond to this catastrophe, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.
Additionally, UNRWA  has reported a 30% rise in the cumulative count of displaced individuals, in which hundreds to thousands of people have been displaced. Over two-thirds of these displaced individuals have sought refuge in around 90 UNRWA schools, functioning as emergency shelters. Recently the UN has received news from the Israeli Armed Forces that the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza, including UN staff and sheltered UN facilities, should relocate to southern Gaza within 24 hours, amounting to 1.1 million Civilians. According to UNICEF, it was also announced that 22 hospitals serving 2,000 inpatients have received orders to evacuate.  We must emphasize that the attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel, including a member of the IFMSA leadership, clearly violate International Humanitarian Law (IHL). WHO  has documented 48 such attacks since October 7 which resulted in the death of multiple health workers and in the critical damage of more than 24 health facilities, disrupting this way the provision of humanitarian aid. Additionally, hospitals are in a critical state as their remaining fuel supplies for backup generators are nearly depleted, posing a severe risk to the lives of thousands of patients.
Guided by our dedication to humanitarian principles, we iterate our call to all parties involved to:
- Commit to immediate cessation of all forms of violence, adhering strictly to IHL and respecting the rights, dignity and lives of all individuals involved;
- Facilitate urgently secure and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance, ensuring the safe passage of essential life-saving supplies and personnel to all impacted regions;
- Strictly uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter and ensure consistent respect for human rights, particularly those of vulnerable populations.
Highlighting the paramount importance of safeguarding human lives and promoting peace, we are urged to reiterate and amplify the following:
- Uphold the core values of humanitarian aid: Echoing the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence, we underscore the imperative to prioritise and protect civilian lives, particularly children and vulnerable communities, in all affected areas;
- Protection of healthcare personnel and infrastructure: In resonance with our policy papers on the Protection of Healthcare  and Ensuring Access to Medical and Humanitarian Aid , we emphasize the non-negotiability of safeguarding healthcare workers and facilities. We strongly condemn any form of violence or assault on healthcare provisions and personnel;
- Facilitation of humanitarian aid: In an earnest plea, we advocate for the establishment of safe and accessible channels for humanitarian assistance. This includes the unimpeded delivery of essential supplies such as food, water, and medicine, as well as the creation of safe spaces where psychological first aid is provided as other necessities, particularly in areas where civilians are trapped or besieged;
- Promotion of Peace: In the spirit of fostering global peace and solidarity, we appeal to international agencies, governments, and the involved parties to pursue mechanisms that will facilitate an immediate cessation of hostilities and pave the way towards a sustainable peaceful resolution.
In parallel, we call upon our National Member Organizations (NMOs) and the future healthcare professional community to seek factual and unbiased information, advocate for the thorough implementation of IHL, and support initiatives that safeguard and uplift human lives amidst crises. Additionally, as ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) is one of the main providers of medical aid during the escalation, we urge you to initiate partnerships with the local HCiD (Healthcare in Danger) focal points to encourage members to advocate for full implementation and respect for IHL at local, national and high-level meetings.
Let our collective stand for peace, unity, and humanity be the beacon that guides our actions and influences in the global arena.
Our thoughts, prayers, and efforts remain with the affected communities. We mourn the tragic loss of IFMSA members in Gaza and stand firm in our advocacy for an end to the ongoing atrocities. Their absence leaves an irreplaceable gap, and our IFMSA family will be immeasurably poorer from now on. We stand in unwavering solidarity with each individual enduring this hardship, advocating unceasingly for peace, justice, and humanity to prevail in these trying times.
Credible sources of information:
- Doctors Without Borders: https://www.msf.org/gaza-israel-war
- UNRWA: https://www.unrwa.org/
- ReliefWeb: https://reliefweb.int/country/pse
- ICRC: https://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/middle-east/israel-and-occupied-territories
- WHO: https://www.emro.who.int/countries/opt/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1mg6f7NnvggXq-LMg3UASVMbJhZl03COr0dbIupNf_eSzwQ9aLdjXU7Yk
- Protection against sexual abuse and exploitation (PSEA): reachable at 121 and through WhatsApp at +972 59-4040121 (East Jerusalem at 1-800-500-121): https://childhelplineinternational.org/palestine-sawa-121/
- Press Release: Urgent Appeal for Humanity Amidst the Escalation of the Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine
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