Gaza Press Release (11/11/23)
Urgent Call for Ceasefire and Humanitarian Aid in Gaza
Toronto, CA- Today, on a day of remembrance for those who risked their lives for freedom and international law, I stand before you to condemn the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza. This tragic irony cannot be understated. As a medical doctor, my duty extends beyond treating the wounded; it is also to advocate for the prevention of such unnecessary loss of life.
A recent resignation by Craig Mokhiber, a high-ranking U.N. human rights official, underscores the severity of this crisis.1 His departure highlights the international community's failure to intervene in what he describes as a genocide. The staggering statistics speak volumes:
- More than 25,000 tons of bombs, surpassing the explosive force used in Hiroshima during WWII,2 have devastated Gaza.
- Over 10,000 Palestinians, including 5,000 children,3 have been killed in horrific ways – bomb blasts, burns, and suffocation under rubble.
- The World Health Organization reports that a child dies every 10 minutes in Gaza.4 In the words of UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, ““Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children.”5
- There is no food or water in Gaza for 1 month and people are dying of dehydration and starvation.
- On October 25th a press release by OXFAM said that “starvation is being used as a weapon of war against civilians in Gaza.”6
- 1.6 million Gaza residents have been forced out of their homes.7
The healthcare system is on its knees. Hospitals, the very sanctuaries of healing, are being targeted and bombed. Half of the region's hospitals and two-thirds of its primary healthcare centers are non-functional. Those still operational are overwhelmed.
As of Nov 10th, 60% of the hospitals in Gaza are no longer functioning due to ongoing bombardment.8 The few remaining hospitals are trying desperately to meet the overwhelming demands of over 20,000 acute cases (burns, trauma, penetrating injuries). In the absence of a ceasefire and humanitarian aid, these numbers will grow with each passing day as a genocide unfolds under our eyes.
In Gaza, 50,000 pregnant women are without access to medical care.9 Just yesterday, four hospitals, including Al Awda Hospital and Al Shifa Hospital's maternity ward, were bombed.10 This unprecedented attack on the region's healthcare infrastructure, and helpless patients must be met with similarly powerful voices from our healthcare leaders.
Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a British-Palestinian surgeon currently volunteering with Doctors without Borders (MSF) in Gaza wrote yesterday that all four pediatric hospitals in Gaza have also collapsed.11 The Gazan Ministry of Health announced today that several Palestinian babies in incubators and in intensive care in al-Shifa hospital have died due to lack of oxygen.12
It is crucial to understand that advocating for Palestinian rights is not antisemitism. This is evident from the numerous Jewish activists and organizations in Canada and the US that stand in solidarity with Palestine, calling for a ceasefire, and wearing shirts that read “Not in our name.”13 14International organizations such as Doctors without Borders,15 UNICEF,16 and Save the Children,17 are all urging for an immediate ceasefire.
The situation in Gaza has been recognized by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International,18 Human Rights Watch,19 and the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner,20 as a manifestation of an apartheid state regime.
Our Canadian society, reflecting the voice of its people, strongly supports a ceasefire. Recent polls show a majority of Canadians advocate for an end to the violence.21 Yet, our government has not taken a stance that reflects this sentiment.
It has been announced that there will be a 4-hour “humanitarian pause”. Let us be clear - there is nothing humanitarian about bombing civilians for 20 hours of the day instead of 24 hours. According to SaveTheChildren, a four-hour pause is insufficient to even get medical supplies to those in need - because there is no fuel, people are relying on donkeys or carrying supplies on their backs. This devastation must end.
We call for:
- The full protection of hospitals, medical facilities, and their staff and patients under Article 18 of the Geneva Convention
- The urgent opening of Humanitarian corridors and sustained access to medical supplies, anesthetics, and life-saving drugs
- Cessation of all hostilities and the safeguarding of civilian lives in the Gaza Strip
Every moment we delay, more innocent lives are lost. We implore the Canadian government and the international community to act now. Silence and inaction are complicity in this tragedy.