War on Gaza: Israel bombed British doctors on ‘de-conflicted’ site in Gaza

Dania Akkad

An Israeli air strike hit a compound in Gaza housing doctors working for a UK charity a month after the Israeli military told British counterparts the site had been “de-conflicted”, MPs heard on Monday.

Foreign Affairs Committee chair and Conservative MP Alicia Kearns raised concerns about the attack during a parliamentary debate following Friday’s ruling from the International Court of Justice in the Gaza genocide case against Israel.

The compound in the southern Gaza town of Al-Mawasi held staff from the UK’s Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) and the US-based International Rescue Committee (IRC), headed by former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who were part of an emergency medical team working at nearby Nasser Hospital.

Around 6am on 18 January, the facility was hit by a bomb which Kearns said was dropped by an F-16 jet which MAP has previously said left several of the staff and a bodyguard with non-life threatening injuries. The compound was left severely damaged.

“Thankfully, the four British doctors living there were only injured, although that itself is a cause for concern,” Kearns said.

A month earlier, on 22 December, she said it was confirmed through UK defence channels that the Israeli military had “logged the co-ordinates of the humanitarian base and de-conflicted it, marking it as a protected sensitive and humanitarian site”.

“I am gravely concerned that the air strike still took place,” Kearns said, asking what the Israeli military’s response had been and whether the government had seen targeting permissions for the strike.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell acknowledged the attack and said it had been raised by Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Israel last week and by the British ambassador in Israel, Simon Walters, but did not answer Kearns’ specific questions.

“We continually remind the Israeli government of their duties under international humanitarian law,” Mitchell said.

“The bombing of the compound is an extremely serious matter, which, as [Kearns] rightly said, needed to be raised at the highest level.”

Following the bombing, the IRC and MAP said they were working with the UN to determine what had happened and to ensure “the continued safety of our teams and viability of their vital humanitarian work”.

“We re-emphasise our call that humanitarian workers and civilians must be protected at all times from attack,” MAP said earlier this month, declining to comment further until details were clarified.

Middle East Eye has asked the Israeli military for comment on the bombing. MEE has also asked for comment from the British foreign office and the Ministry of Defence. MAP directed MEE to its earlier comments.

Nasser Hospital, the main medical facility in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip where the emergency team was set to work, has been under a siege imposed by Israeli forces earlier this month.

The facility has completely run out of food, anaesthetics and painkillers, Dr Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza told MEE last week.

Only 10 percent of its personnel were working as of last week under conditions the ministry called “inhumane”.

(Source: Middle East Eye)