BRITISH-Palestinian surgeon Professor Ghassan Abu Sitta has recounted harrowing health-related ordeals Palestinian civilians went through during Israel’s onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The brutal onslaught was launched after Palestinian resistance groups launched Operation al-Aqsa Storm on October 7th against the occupying entity, the largest retaliatory attack in decades.
Professor Sitta, who travelled with Doctors Without Borders via Egypt to Gaza on 9th October to work in the besieged territory’s hospitals as a surgeon, told a press conference in London on Monday that he had seen evidence of war crimes, including the use of white phosphorus on civilians.
The British surgeon, who worked in both al-Shifa and al-Ahli hospitals in Gaza, said fragmentary missiles were used by the Israeli occupation army to attack Gaza, causing unique injury patterns and amputations.
At the burns unit in al-Shifa Hospital, he said that some 40 to 45 per cent of the wounded were children and the primary target of the Israeli bombing was residential homes.
Stressing that incendiary bombs were used against Palestinian civilians, Sitta said he’d treated 100 patients with 40% of their body surface area burnt but no other injuries.
‘Phosphorus burns through to the inner core of the body and only stops when it has no exposure to oxygen… so the patient would be puckered with burns that bore right into the ribs, the bones,’ he said.
The British-Palestinian surgeon said he ‘increasingly’ saw white phosphorus burn wounds while he worked in the besieged Gaza Strip.
‘When the land invasion happened, we started getting patients increasingly from the north with white phosphorus burns,’ Sitta told reporters.
‘Once you’ve seen them you know what they are. The flesh of these patients turns to Swiss cheese, with black burns from the phosphorus pellets.’
Sitta said that a 15-year-old boy was ‘showered’ with pellets of white phosphorus while running away, which left his entire back with chemical burns.
The Israeli military ‘deliberately’ targeted civilians in schools, hospitals and places of worship he told the press conference.
‘Patients reported the wiping out of entire families and have described them as massacres,’ he said, adding that there were between 700 and 900 children with amputations by day five of their visit to Gaza.
Sitta said he had witnessed Palestinian casualties shot by snipers in Gaza and that necessity had forced them to conduct several surgeries without anaesthesia, including one on a nine-year-old girl.
At a hospital in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, Sitta also said he witnessed a phone call by the Israeli army to the director of the hospital, who was informed that unless he evacuated within two hours, the hospital would be targeted.
‘One of the most horrific scenes I witnessed was when, after an air raid, the dead and the wounded were brought in, members of the staff would be running frantically in the emergency department, looking at the faces of the wounded and the dead to see whether their relatives had been among the dead and the wounded,’ he said.
‘In many cases their children had been among the dead and the wounded.’
Sitta also said there was a ‘huge explosion’ on another day and ‘the ceiling in the operating room fell on top of us, luckily I wasn’t injured.’
He added: ‘The ambulances were on fire, some of the cars were on fire, and the forecourt, which had been lit by fire, was full of bodies and parts of bodies.’
The British-Palestinian surgeon said 160 doctors and nurses lost their lives during the occupation’s aggression on the Gaza Strip.
Israel waged the war on Gaza on October 7th after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas conducted Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.
Since the start of the aggression, the Tel Aviv regime has killed nearly 15,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and left vast swathes of the coastal enclave in ruins.
It has also imposed a ‘complete siege’ on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity, food and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there.
- An Iranian deputy foreign minister says the Israeli regime should be brought to justice for all ‘four core international crimes’ it committed against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip during its latest large-scale military operation.
Reza Najafi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, made the remarks in the 28th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Monday.
He said: ‘During the past eight weeks, the Israeli regime has committed all four core international crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression repeatedly and concurrently.’
He added: ‘This entails the international responsibility of the Israeli regime and its supporters as well as the individual criminal responsibility of all those who ordered and committed such crimes or facilitated, aided and abetted their commission, including by providing the required means.’
The senior Iranian diplomat emphasised that all those responsible for the crimes against the Gazans shall be held to account and be brought to justice.
Since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza on October 7th, more than 15,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in Gaza alone, while over 6,000 are still missing and more than 36,000 are wounded.
Najafi added that over 70 per cent of those killed, missing or wounded are women and children.
He reiterated that in addition to these figures, the ‘horrifying’ reports and ‘heart-breaking’ images of Israel’s barbaric invasion once again revealed, clearly and undeniably, the very ‘murderous’ nature of the regime which possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including chemical weapons in its stockpiles.
Najafi emphasised that Israel’s crimes, along with a call by one of the regime’s ministers to even drop a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip, once again proved the serious danger of Israeli chemical weapons for regional and international peace and security.
He stressed the importance of making every effort for the speedy universalisation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, particularly by compelling the Israeli regime to join it without any precondition or further delay.
Israel is the sole possessor of nukes in the Middle East.
The regime, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to possess 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
Unlike Iran, Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and continues its unsupervised nuclear activities with the support of the United States and European countries.
- Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi says the Israeli aggression against Gaza, which has claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people in 49 days, qualifies as genocide as members of the Arab country’s lower house of parliament embark on a review of peace accords with the Tel Aviv regime.
Safadi said on Monday that what has happened in Gaza since early October is within the legal definition of genocide. The minister was speaking in a news conference at the Union for the Mediterranean summit in Spain’s Barcelona.
Jordan borders the occupied West Bank in Palestine and is home to a large community of refugees who have been displaced by Israel’s decades of aggression against the Palestinians.
Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel which it signed in 1994 amid efforts at the time by the United States to work out a so-called two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, an initiative which has failed to bear fruit after nearly three decades.
That comes as members of Jordan’s lower house’s legal committee met with international and constitutional law experts on Sunday to scrutinise the peace accords with Israel, the Jordan News Agency reported.
The meeting was aimed at investigating the possibility of prosecuting Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court for crimes committed in Gaza.
Committee members carried out in-depth reviews of the accords, said the report, adding that Jordanian MPs were also in search of legal frameworks to sue Israeli settlers for their acts of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
The committee is expected to present recommendations to the Jordanian parliament in the near future, said the report.