Dr Christos Christou, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), addressed the United Nations Security Council in a pressing open letter on Monday, imploring the council to use its influence to establish an immediate and sustained ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and to demand that the Israeli government ceases its attacks on Palestinian civilians.
Dr Christou’s letter describes the dire situation in Gaza, where Israeli military actions have resulted in extensive civilian casualties, including a significant number of children, alongside the destruction of healthcare facilities. He highlighted the disproportionate impact of the conflict on Palestinian civilians, exacerbated by the Israeli-imposed blockade since 2007, which has severely restricted essential supplies to the 2.3 million people in Gaza. This blockade, he asserted, amounts to collective punishment, a violation of International Humanitarian Law.
The MSF response included dispatching an international emergency team to Gaza. However, their efforts have been severely limited by the destruction of infrastructure, scarcity of supplies, and ongoing insecurity. Dr Christou recounted the challenges faced by medical staff, such as performing surgeries in suboptimal conditions and being forced to evacuate, leaving patients behind.
The letter criticised the Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF) military strategy, which Dr Christou said prioritises damage over accuracy, resulting in widespread civilian suffering. He noted the situation in northern Gaza as particularly dire, with massive influxes of wounded and strikes on refugee camps.
Dr Christou called for a sustained ceasefire, the establishment of an independent mechanism for humanitarian supplies, and the creation of secure medical evacuation routes for severely injured individuals. He urged the UN Security Council to exercise its diplomatic influence to end Israel’s military actions in Gaza.