The war between Israel and Gaza’s militants took another disastrous turn today, when a hospital in Gaza City was hit. Hundreds were killed and many others were injured.
We are horrified by the carnage. We send our condolences to the families of Palestinian civilians who were killed at Al-Ahli hospital and at other sites in the Gaza Strip. While there are conflicting reports as to the party responsible for this explosion, one thing is abundantly clear: the longer this war continues, the more civilian lives will be lost.
Gaza is on the precipice of a humanitarian disaster. Not just from bombs but also from the blockade. The north is essentially out of water. Fuel to power the hospitals, medicine and food are almost depleted. While Gazans have been urged to seek shelter in the south, the southern part of the strip lacks the necessary hospital beds, and other resources to accommodate the influx of civilians. At the same time, it is also not safe from bombing campaigns. This horrifying situation underscores the necessity for Israel and its allies to do their utmost to prevent further carnage and to avoid a humanitarian disaster among Gaza’s civilian population.
As President Biden meets with Israeli leaders tomorrow, we urge him to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza, to take decisive steps to protect civilians, and to provide shelter and essentials to the internal refugees who fled northern Gaza to the southern part of the Strip.
We welcome the President’s appointment of Ambassador David Satterfield as his Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues. Ambassador Satterfield, who was assigned with urgently addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, has his work cut out for him. We urge all parties involved to help Satterfield’s humanitarian mission.
To that end, when he meets with Israeli leaders, President Biden should demand a respite in Israel’s aerial bombing and a halt to a ground offensive pending measures to spare civilians. These should include providing safe passage for Palestinian civilians out of the Gaza Strip, as well as shelter and humanitarian supplies for those who flee to safe zones in the southern Gaza Strip. President Biden should also demand that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad release the hostages held in Gaza.
We commend the Biden administration’s swift action to help prevent escalation on Israel’s northern border, and its efforts to prevent a regional conflict. We urge President Biden to make sure that Israel’s government does its utmost to prevent escalation in the West Bank as well. That includes addressing incendiary action by violent settlers who in the past week have been taking advantage of the Gaza crisis to attack Palestinians in the West Bank with impunity.
As the dialogue between Israel and the United States continues, we also urge the Biden administration to seek assurances from the Israeli government that Gazan refugees would be allowed to return to their homes once Gaza rebuilds. Addressing any fears of displacement is vital, as it may influence families' decisions to evacuate.
As they address this crisis, we urge the United States, Israel, and all other stakeholders to recommit to the words and spirit of the February 2023 Aqaba Summit and the March 2023 Sharm El-Sheikh meeting to recreate a political horizon for Israelis and Palestinians toward a peaceful settlement of the conflict between them.