Health, medicine, and the conflict in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank

The BMA is profoundly concerned by the health and humanitarian consequences of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Our interventions are given on this page.

Location: International UK
Audience: All doctors International doctors
Updated: Thursday 25 January 2024
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The BMA is deeply concerned by the brutal Hamas attack on 7th October 2023 and the Israeli response. This has resulted in the unacceptable taking of hundreds of hostages, the destruction of medical facilities, and the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, including healthcare workers.

Acknowledging the complexity of this conflict, the BMA’s focus is on ensuring medical neutrality* and respect for International Humanitarian Law as per the BMA’s procedures for engagement in international humanitarian issues.

The BMA is also deeply concerned by the impact of the conflict in the UK, notably the rise in both antisemitism and islamophobia, including in the NHS.

 

Our interventions

BMA asks

1. An immediate ceasefire

A ceasefire is essential to ensure humanitarian needs are met, medical supplies can be delivered, and non-combatants can leave the areas under threat if they so wish.

2. Respect for international humanitarian law

There has been a terrible disregard for international humanitarian law during this recent conflict. We strongly urge all sides to recognise and abide by these principles.

3. The immediate release of all hostages

It is unacceptable for hostages to be taken during a conflict. Hamas must return the 200 hostages without delay.

4. Resumption of supplies and resources entering Gaza

Food, water, electricity, fuel, and medical supplies are not bargaining chips but essentials. Israel must allow Gazans to access these basic needs.

5. Respect for medical impartiality and neutrality

Doctors, other healthcare professionals, patients, and medical facilities are protected under international humanitarian law. All parties must respect this, not target such individuals and facilities, and make all reasonable efforts to ensure that there is no accidental damage to them. Furthermore, doctors must not be placed in a position where there are unable to care for patients equally and impartially.

6. The establishment of a humanitarian corridor

It is vital a humanitarian corridor is established to ensure necessary supplies reach Gaza. We welcome the news that the aid convoys are now reaching Gaza. However, what has arrived so far is insufficient. It is highly concerning the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees described Gaza a ‘hellhole’ for civilians; time is running out to get aid into the territory.

7. Governments of the world to work together to ensure humanitarian needs are met

We ask governments of the world to recognise these asks, which have been reinforced globally, and work with all parties concerned to ensure this is achieved.

 

*Medical neutrality can be understood as the principle of non-interference in medical care during times of conflict. This means healthcare workers should not be impeded in providing medical care and, equally, medical professionals must provide care to those in need without discrimination.