Doctors and health care workers from across the Greater Sydney region are inviting members of the public to rally with them in the CBD this evening, followed by a vigil under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to call for an end to the growing tragedy in Gaza.
The vigil is part of a world-wide effort by Health Workers 4 Palestine, a non-partisan coalition uniting healthcare workers, agencies, and NGOs concerned about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which began on October 7.
The procession starts at the historic Sydney Eye Hospital next to NSW Parliament at 7pm this evening, followed by a vigil at Hickson Road Reserve under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Speakers include Ali Al Hajj, Reem Burrows, Dr Amira and Osama Nasser.
Of Gaza’s 36 hospitals, only 11 are now functioning in any capacity at all, and that’s despite food, water, fuel and electricity being cut off by Israel since October 7. A Guardian investigation published earlier this month found that of 10 hospitals it surveyed, only two were left functioning.
“Both paediatric hospitals in Gaza are now non-functional, as are the strip’s only dedicated cancer hospital and its psychiatric hospital,” the Guardian reported.
Israel officials have repeatedly claimed that the group responsible for the October 7 assault on Israel, Hamas, is headquartered under Gazan hospitals, from where it operates vast networks of underground tunnels. The claims have been widely ridiculed both in social and mainstream media, after Israel has repeatedly failed to provide any evidence to back its assertions.
One of the most shocking reports out of the region is a story on December 2 from Mohammed Baalousha, a journalist with the Emirati TV channel Al-Mashhad. During a brief ceasefire in mid-November he entered the Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital in northern Gaza and found the decomposing bodies of newborn babies still in their incubators. They had to be abandoned during the Israeli assault.
Media reports subsequently claims Israeli officials were recorded on tape ordering the evacuation of the hospital, and promising ambulances would be sent to collect children left there. Those ambulances never arrived.
More than a month ago, Human Rights Watch condemned Israel’s ongoing “illegal” targeting of hospitals, ambulances and health facilities and workers.
“The Israeli military’s repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport are further destroying the Gaza Strip’s healthcare system and should be investigated as war crimes. Despite the Israeli military’s claims on November 5, 2023, of “Hamas’s cynical use of hospitals,” no evidence put forward would justify depriving hospitals and ambulances of their protected status under international humanitarian law.”
A spokesperson for the Australian vigil said in a written statement:
“It has been over 62 days of unrelenting attacks on the people of Gaza. This collective’s primary objective is to advocate for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, urging an end to the 16-year blockade on Gaza.
“We extend our invitation to local community members, leaders, and members of the press to attend this vigil in solidarity with the people of Gaza and with healthcare workers affected by this crisis.
“This vigil is open to all, and attendees are encouraged to bring candles and flowers as an expression of solidarity.”
Date: Friday December 15th, 2023
Time: 7pm sharp
Location: Procession begins at Sydney Eye Hospital, followed by a vigil at Hickson Rd Reserve
- Ali Al Hajj, (Lebanese poetry slam artist) will begin with an original poem.
- Reem Burrows (Palestinian-Australian Author) will deliver the keynote speech highlighting the ongoing atrocities including the healthcare workers killed and kidnapped, the hospitals out of work and non-functional, the limited ability of healthcare staff to provide care and the killing of thousands of civilians.
- Dr Amira (British Palestinian doctor) who will share personal stories of healthcare workers who have been killed and statements from Gaza Medic Voices.
- Osama Nasser, (Palestinian poet) who will close the vigil with a poem.
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