Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, made the following statement after reports of numerous attacks by Israeli Defense Forces on Palestinian hospitals and emergency medical personnel in its on-going military offensive in the Gaza Strip:
"As a physician, I am distressed by reports that Israel has attacked hospitals, ambulances and medical personnel in its on-going military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Physicians for Human Rights, Médecins Sans Frontières, and the International Committee on the Red Cross/Red Crescent have reported that at least 11 medical facilities in Gaza have come under attack, some of them repeatedly. Palestinian health and emergency workers are unable to reach the dead and wounded in many parts of Gaza due to the danger of being attacked themselves.
Strict and long-established international laws should protect the neutrality of medical facilities and workers in conflict zones. Moreover, the proximity of military targets or the suspicion of hidden weapons and militants is an invalid excuse in the targeting of a hospital or ambulance.
In the wake of a brutal crackdown on protesters in Bahrain in 2011, I spoke out when medical teams came under attack from government forces. It was also why I authored HR 2643, the "Medical Neutrality Act of 2011," which makes the protection of medical professionals and access to medical services a global policy priority for the United States.
I call on America's long-time friend and ally Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and cease all attacks against health facilities and workers.
This is a tragic conflict on both sides and there is a moral and fundamental obligation for all involved to care for the sick and injured in Gaza, as well as to protect medical personnel who put themselves in harm's way."