ICN calls for humanity to prevail in Israel-Gaza conflict and for protection of all civilians

17 November 2023

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has reiterated its concern for the people caught up in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict and called again for an end to the ongoing suffering, and for the protection of health care facilities and staff. ICN emphasized that the needs of patients, their safety and that of the nurses and other health workers serving them must be paramount.

ICN has been in contact with its member associations in the region, the National Association of Nurses in Israel and the Palestinian Nursing and Midwifery Association and expressed its support for nurses everywhere.

ICN speaks for nurses around the world when it condemns terrorism and violence. The humanitarian crisis that is unfolding affects all people in the region, and nurses, their patients and their colleagues will continue to be in harm’s way until a peace process is initiated.

ICN demands that obligations under international humanitarian laws, which are designed to protect health care facilities and services, are observed at all times.

ICN explicitly calls for the release of all hostages, some of whom have been held since the heinous terrorist attack of 7 October. The organization is deeply concerned for the health and safety of all innocent civilians, particularly women and children. ICN condemns sexual violence and all attacks that have been perpetrated against innocent people. Corridors for the safe passage of the displaced must be established, and health care facilities must be given access to the fundamental services they require, including power, water and medical supplies.

Health care facilities should be sacrosanct, untouchable beacons of hope, places where people can go in times of conflict to be safe and cared for. Using patients as human shields is utterly reprehensible, as is the notion that the deaths of innocent vulnerable people is in any way justifiable as ‘collateral damage’.

ICN sends its sincerest thanks and heartfelt gratitude to the nurses in the region who continue to work in the most difficult of circumstances. Many of them will be grieving and afraid, separated from their families, suffering the same losses as their neighbours and friends, yet still carrying on their duty to care for the sick, the injured, the bereft, the desperate and the dying. For them, as for everyone else, peace in the region cannot come a day too soon.

ICN encourages anyone wishing to support nurses and health care in the region to join its #NursesforPeace campaign which supports nurses working on the frontlines of conflict areas around the world. Funds raised by the campaign go to the ICN Humanitarian Fund.