Medical report concludes attack on Gaza was 'terror without mercy'

Israel’s 22 day invasion of the Gaza Strip served no other purpose than to create 'terror without mercy' according to the authors of an independent medical report which was released in London last night.

The international delegation, including Comboni Missionary Sister and nurse, Sister Alicia Vacas found human rights violations in the way that the injured were treated during Operation Cast Lead along with evidence that Palestinian civilians had died because help didn’t reach them on time.

Five experts in forensic pathology, burns, a paediatrician, a nurse and a trauma expert went into Gaza almost ten days after the Israelis withdrew, whilst evidence of the onslaught was still on the ground.  They collected samples of human tissue, earth water, grass and mud, as well as testimonies from over 44 individuals, some of whom had watched their relatives bleed to death.

They were charged with collecting and analysing evidence on attacks on medical facilities and teams, evacuation of the wounded and the dead, causes of injuries and of deaths with relation to types of arms used, the impact o the health system and public health and other potential violations.

When analysed the medical evidence confirmed that use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster and CD bombs and phosphorous, already confirmed by the Israeli military.  There were attacks on medics involved in rescue operations and 29 ambulances were destroyed in a bombardment that cost over 1,300 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.

Introducing the report last night Sr Alicia Vacas, who interviewed survivors, many of them amputees, in Gaza and in Egypt explained the many died from injuries which could have been easily treated.  She told of testimony from one man who watched his two sons die, as the soldiers who shot at them shouted abuse or shot over his head.  One of the young men bled to death from a minor leg wound, 1km from the hospital, because ambulances were not permitted to go into the area for 23 hours after the shooting.

“They could see the soldiers who had shot them.  The father asked them for help, they fired a shot and shouted at him,” explained Sr Vacas.

“His son need not have died.  It was not a serious wound”.

In another case quoted in the report, attempts to rescue a young girl whose sisters had just been killed in front of her were hampered when the rescue services came under sustained attack.  Two of the rescue team died in the attack.

The report concluded that the underlying meaning of the attack on the Gaza Strip or at least its final consequence “appears to be one of creating terror without mercy to anyone.”

Sr Vacas went further, suggesting that the medical evidence and the kinds of injuries the team had documented and analysed suggested a systematic attack on the Palestinian people,  “a strategy of attack, these were not collateral damage,” she added.
 Miri Weingarten, Advocacy worker for Physicians for Human Rights-Israel admitted that the report might not make a difference to the situation as it stands today but added, “when the day of political accountability comes, at least the truth will be there to read.”

Copies of the report can be downloaded at:

Share this story