17 May 2021 Doha News

The headquarters of Qatar Red Crescent Society in Gaza was targeted by Israeli air strikes on Monday evening, according to local reports.

“Major destruction in our office as a result of Israeli warplanes targeting two floors of the same building, opposite to the ministry of health in the Ghazi Al Shawa building,” the director of QRCS in Gaza, Akram Nassar said, according to a tweet online.

The organisation confirmed the news on Twitter saying it was “exposed to shelling by the Israeli occupation forces today, Monday 17/5/2021 at 6pm, Jerusalem local time.”

Two Palestinians, including a child, were killed in the attack, while 10 others were injured.

In a statement, Qatar’s foreign minister slammed the assault as a violation of international law.

“The State of Qatar expresses its strong condemnation of the Israeli occupation’s bombing of the Qatari Red Crescent Society building in the besieged Gaza Strip, which resulted in several deaths and injuries,” the statement said.

“Parallel to the attack on the Red Crescent, another operation caused damages and destruction of parts of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prostheses, as a result of the continuous attacks on buildings surrounding the hospital. Israel has also shamelessly bombed Al-Jalaa tower, which housed a number of media institutions, including Al-Jazeera offices in the Gaza Strip,” it added.

Photo: [File Photo: QRCS team in Gaza]

“The targeting of humanitarian and media institutions is a clear violation of international law, humanitarian norms and values,” the statement said, vowing Doha will “spare no effort in supporting the just Palestinian cause and the brotherly people of Palestine.”

QRCS has been working to respond to the needs of Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied territories despite mounting Israeli aggression.

On Sunday, the organisation announced it the allocation of $1 million to help Palestinians facing a second week of deadly Israeli violence that has killed more than 200 so far, including 58 children.

The emergency response will provide basic needs, such as medicines and medical consumable, ambulances, medical equipment for hospitals, materials to prevent the spread of Covid-19, food and non-food supplies, as well as assistance to partially repair damaged homes.

The essential aid comes as Israel’s military continued to launch deliberate attacks targeting health facilities and ambulance crews. On Tuesday, reports confirmed Israel had struck roads leading up to Gaza’s main Al-Shifa hospital. It also bombed a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic.

“Last night, an MSF clinic in #Gaza where we provide trauma and burn treatment was damaged by Israeli aerial bombardment, leaving a sterilization room unusable and a waiting area damaged. No one was injured in our clinic, but people were killed by the bombing,” MSF said in a tweet.

Ever prior to the Israeli bombardment in the besieged strip, Palestine’s health sector has been struggling due to a lack of resources amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“QRCS has monitored the development of these events by activating the Information Management Center in cases of disasters since May 8. This includes daily contact with its mission in the Gaza Strip and field teams in the West Bank, and continuous communication with the Palestinian Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC),” the organisation tweeted on Saturday.

More than 40,000 Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza where over 500 homes have been demolished.

On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes also destroyed a 13-floor building housing offices of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network as well as US news agency The Associated Press, drawing condemnation from journalists around the world.

Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) provided 14 new ultrasound machines to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip as part of its project to support and develop radiological services in these centers.

In a statement released today, QRCS said that this supportive project, which costs about QR1,190,000 and includes the implementation of training for medical staff, comes to ensure the provision of quality services.

Director of the Women’s Center at the Primary Health Centers in Gaza Dr Nahla Halas said that care services for pregnant women are provided in 28 health centers in all governorates of the Gaza Strip. She pointed out that the recent years have witnessed great suffering as a result of the lack of “ultrasound” machines.

In relation to quality, the old ultrasound machines gave unclear and inaccurate results. Many pregnant women had to visit health centers in distant places, or even to seek costly services at private medical clinics, she explained.

With QRCS’s latest project, Dr Halas expected lower fetal morbidity and mortality rates, as well as more pregnant women visiting health centers, instead of outpatient and obstetrics departments at public hospitals.

For his part, Executive Director of Relief and International Development at QRCS Dr Mohammed Salah Ibrahim considered the enhancement of the health sector a “top priority for QRCS’s interventions in Gaza”.

“Over a decade, we have contributed greatly to the health care services provided for our Palestinian brothers and sisters, by supporting the medical professionals, facilities, equipment, supplies, and community health education,” he added.

In the face of persistently difficult living conditions, Dr. Ibrahim called upon all the individual and institutional donors in Qatar to continue to help the vulnerable in Gaza.