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International activists form human shield to protect El Wafa Hospital in Gaza City


By Haley Paladino - July 13, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [Gaza Blockade] [Collective Punishment] [Operation Protective Edge]

International activists are acting as a human shield on El Wafa Hospital in the Gaza Strip. The medical facility is the only rehabilitation center in the besieged Strip, and is currently housing fourteen patients in critical condition who cannot be moved. The building is slated to be bombed by Israeli forces, according to Haaretz

Two warning shots were fired at the building at 2 a.m. Friday morning. The practice, called "knock on the roof," is intended to demonstrate the severity of the situation to inhabitants of buildings about to be struck.

"I didn't see anything resembling a rocket," American activist Joseph Cotran told Haaretz of his tour of the hospital. 

Cotran is accompanied by activists from Australia, New Zeland, Sweden, Spain, England and Venezuela, all of whom have reportedly informed their embassies that they will stay in the hospital. They are now rotating shifts staying in the building, so at least one international activist is in the hospital at all times.

Israeli airstriks on Gaza have claimed 121 lives and injured over 900 since Operation Protective Edge, an offensive intended to cripple Hamas and end all Palestinian militant rocket fire at Israel, began early Tuesday morning. 

The Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits the targetting of medical facilities in war time, unless such facilities are being used for weapons storage or for shelter of able-bodied combatants and due warning has been given. 

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the Israeli military has a history of targetting medical personal and medical aid workers. During Operation Cast Lead, a 22 day-offensive in 2008 and 2009 in which 1,455 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed, Israeli forces targetted several ambualances and humanitarian aid workers, according to the organization's report.

The Israeli military has asserted it does all it can to avoid civilian casualties, particularly by way of the "knock on the roof" technique. 

"We strike at their armed forces and sometimes we hit civilians by mistake, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu in a televised speech Thursday. 

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