Geneva - Jordanian and Egyptian rescue crews must be sent to the Gaza Strip, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor demanded Wednesday, to support efforts to recover the bodies of victims and look for missing people under the debris of destroyed buildings. The human rights organisation pointed to similar prior assistance efforts by Jordan and Egypt in other areas of the world.
Euro-Med Monitor emphasised the importance of taking advantage of the four-day temporary humanitarian truce agreed upon today in order to support relief efforts in the Strip, especially those aimed at recovering confirmed victims’ and missing people’s bodies. It estimated that there are more than 6,000 missing people under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli air and artillery strikes over the course of 46 days of the ongoing bloody war on the Gaza Strip.
Given Gaza’s extremely limited capacity to handle the massive demands placed on it since the beginning of the current assault on the Strip, Euro-Med Monitor urged the swift introduction of life-saving and first aid equipment to be a top priority, as the Palestinian Civil Defense crews there are in grave need of support.
The Gaza Strip lacks the basic services required to look for bodies under debris due to a lack of resources, including a fuel shortage paralysing ambulances and medical team operations. Euro-Med Monitor said that at least 25 members of the roughly 800-strong Gaza Civil Defense have been killed in the recent Israeli attacks. Multiple headquarters and vehicles belonging to the Civil Defense have also been targeted, both directly and indirectly.
Gaza’s Civil Defense was already beset with problems prior to the current genocide, due to by the fact that its field teams possessed just 30 fire and rescue vehicles and one tanker vehicle with only four hydraulic ladders, three of which operated poorly and the fourth of which had broken down for lack of spare parts.
According to the Palestinian Civil Defense Administration, the aforementioned pieces of equipment have been in service since 1994 and have not been updated, renewed, or replaced since then. The Administration also reported that it lacks the heavy machinery necessary to handle substantial amounts of building debris.
Claiming that they could have “dual uses”, Israeli authorities have prohibited the entry of oxygen machines, breathing masks, concrete-crushing equipment, helmets, aerial ladders, searchlights that can penetrate smoke and fire, and Civil Defense uniforms made to withstand extreme heat over the years.
The decomposition and accumulation of thousands of corpses, stated Euro-Med Monitor, pose a serious risk to civilians’ health and the environment of the Gaza Strip. This risk includes the spread of bacteria and viruses that could cause an outbreak and subsequent epidemics of diseases like cholera, tuberculosis, and other illnesses that could target the immune system.
Another added danger comes from the contamination of water supplies by corpses, given that their presence near or inside water supply facilities endangers the health of the living. Corpses may secrete waste and contaminate water sources, leading to the spread of diarrhea or other diseases.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor stressed that it is immoral for the regional and international community to simply accept the fact that the Gaza Strip lacks the minimum means of rescue. The Geneva-based rights group cited the the widely shared scenes of scenes of people searching for loved ones trapped under the rubble with only their bare hands, saying that, had the needed materials been provided to the Strip’s specialised crews prior to the ongoing genocide, hundreds of victims might have been saved.
Euro-Med Monitor renewed its demand for international pressure to be applied to Israel to stop targeting Civil Defense crews and ambulance service providers, as this constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law and the rules of war.