Silence of the Damned

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Afrasianet - Chris Hedges - Our leading humanitarian and civil institutions, including major medical institutions, refuse to condemn Israel's genocide in Gaza. This exposes their hypocrisy and complicity.

There is no functioning healthcare system left in Gaza. Infants die. Pediatric limbs are amputated without anesthesia. Thousands of cancer patients and those needing dialysis lack treatment. Gaza's last cancer hospital has ceased to function.

An estimated 50,000 pregnant women do not have a safe place to give birth. They undergo caesarean sections without anesthesia. Abortion rates have risen by 300 percent since the Israeli offensive began. The wounded bleed to death. There is no sanitation or clean water.

Death Industry

Hospitals were bombed and destroyed. Nasser Hospital, one of the last functioning hospitals in Gaza, is "on the verge of collapse." Some 79 were destroyed in Gaza and more than 212 in the West Bank. Some 400 doctors, nurses, paramedics and healthcare workers have been killed, more than the total of all healthcare workers killed in conflicts around the world combined since 2016. More than 100 others detained, interrogated or beaten or tortured or disappeared by Israeli soldiers.

Israeli soldiers routinely enter hospitals to carry out forced evictions – forces entered al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis and demanded that doctors and displaced Palestinians leave – in addition to arresting detainees, including the wounded, patients, and staff. Israeli soldiers, disguised as hospital workers and civilians, entered Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin in the West Bank and killed three Palestinians in their sleep.

Cuts in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) – collective punishment for alleged involvement in the 7 October attack on 12 of UNRWA's 13,000 workers – will accelerate the catastrophe, turning attacks, starvation, lack of health care and the spread of infectious diseases in Gaza into an unprecedented wave of intentional death.

The blanket charges – which include the accusation that 10 percent of all UNRWA staff in Gaza have ties to radical Islamist groups – appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Reporter Carrie Keller Lane served in the IDF. Given the numerous lies Israel has used to justify genocide, including "beheaded children" and "mass rape", it is reasonable to assume that this may be another fabrication.

The vital UN agency, UNRWA, is everything that prevents Palestinians in Gaza from famine. A handful of countries, including Ireland, Norway and Turkey, retain their funding.

Eight UNRWA staff members accused of participating in the 7 October attack were shot in southern Israel, killing 1,139 people and abducting 240 . Two were suspended. UNRWA promised an investigation. These represent 0.04 percent of UNRWA staff.

Israel seeks to destroy not only Gaza's healthcare system and infrastructure, but also UNRWA, which provides food and aid to two million Palestinians. The goal is to make Gaza uninhabitable and ethnically cleanse the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands are already starving. More than 70 percent of housing was destroyed. More than 26,700 people were killed, and more than 65,600 injured. Thousands are missing. About 90 percent of Gaza's population was displaced before the war, with many living in the open. Palestinians are forced to eat grass and drink contaminated water.

Destructive scheme

Noga Erbil, a former Israeli Foreign Ministry official, stated during a debate in the Israeli parliament on January 4: "It will be impossible to win the war if we do not destroy UNRWA, and this destruction must begin immediately."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2018, "UNRWA is an organization that entrenches the problem of Palestinian refugees." It also entrenches the narrative of the so-called "right of return" with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and therefore UNRWA must disappear.

An unnamed senior Israeli official praised the suspension of UNRWA funding, but insisted on Wednesday that the government was not calling for its closure.

More than 152 UNRWA staff members in Gaza – including school principals, teachers, health workers, gynaecologists, engineers, support staff, and a psychologist – have been killed since the Israeli attacks began. More than 141 UNRWA facilities were bombed. The death toll is the largest loss of staff during any conflict in the history of the United Nations.

The destruction of healthcare facilities and the targeting of doctors, nurses, paramedics and staff is shameful, meaning that the most vulnerable, the sick, infants, wounded and elderly, and those who care for them, are often sentenced to death.

Palestinian doctors are appealing to doctors and medical organizations from around the world to denounce the attack on the healthcare system and mobilize their institutions to protest.

"The world must condemn the actions against medical professionals taking place in Gaza," writes the director of Shifa Hospital, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, who was arrested by Israelis along with other health workers in November 2023 while evacuated with a WHO convoy, and who remains detained. This correspondence is a call to every human being, all medical communities and all healthcare professionals around the world to support the cessation of these destructive activities of the health system in and around hospitals, which is a civic obligation in accordance with international law, the United Nations and the World Health Organization."

But these institutions—with some notable exceptions, such as the American Public Health Association, which called for a ceasefire—have either remained silent or, as with Dr. Matthew Winya, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado, justify Israeli war crimes. These doctors – who somehow find it acceptable for a child to be killed in Gaza every 10 minutes on average – are complicit in the genocide and contribute to the violation of the Geneva Convention. They support death They are not messengers of life.

Moral bankruptcy

Robert Jay Lifton writes in his book Nazi Doctors: Medical Murder and Genocide Psychology that "genocide projects require the active participation of educated professionals—doctors, scientists, engineers, military leaders, lawyers, clergy, university professors, and other educators—who unite not only to create genocidal ground, but much of the ideological rationale, moral climate, and organizational process."

In November 2023, a group of 100 Israeli doctors defended the bombing of hospitals in Gaza, claiming that they were used as Hamas command centers, a charge Israel has not been able to verify.

Deans of U.S. medical schools and leading medical organizations, especially the American Medical Association, have joined the ranks of universities, law schools, churches, and the media to turn their backs on Palestinians. It closed a debate on the ceasefire resolution among its members and called for "medical neutrality," although it abandoned "medical neutrality to denounce Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

There is a cost to condemning this genocide, a cost they do not intend to pay. They are afraid of being attacked. They are afraid of ruining their careers. They are afraid of losing funding. They are afraid of losing status. They fear persecution. They fear social isolation. This fear makes them complicit.

And what about those who speak? They are described as anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist. George Washington University clinical psychology professor Lara Sheehy was fired from her job. Former Human Rights Watch chair Kenneth Roth was denied a fellowship at Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy because of his "alleged anti-Israel bias."

San Francisco professor Rabab Abdulhadi has been prosecuted for supporting Palestinian rights. Shahd Abu Salama of Sheffield Hallam University in the UK was suspended after a vicious smear campaign, although the foundation later settled her claim for discrimination against her. Professor Jasper Poar at Rutgers University is an ongoing target of the Israel lobby and endures constant harassment. Medical students and faculty in Canada face suspension or expulsion if they publicly criticize Israel.

The danger is not only condemnation of Israeli crimes. More importantly, the danger is the moral bankruptcy and cowardice of institutions and their leaders.

Racist ideology

This brings me to Dr. Ruba Maria, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who launched her call to stop bombing hospitals and study the impact of Zionism as a racist ideology, unleashed a torrent of vitriolic attacks against her, attacks that were implicitly endorsed by her medical school.

She was slandered as anti-Semitic and targeted by the Canary Mission, a Zionist organization that seeks to distort and destroy the careers of students and faculty who criticize Israel and defend Palestinian rights. She has canceled speaking engagements and received death threats and messages such as: "Kill yourself, you retard who complains," and "White people are the greatest people on earth. You know this."

History will not forgive us and will not judge us with compassion. But he will venerate those who, despite the threat and blockade, have found the courage to say no.

American military writer and correspondent

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