ICN condemns Gaza hospital bombing and calls for protection of health workers

18 October 2023

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) condemns in the strongest possible terms the bombing of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza which killed hundreds of people including injured patients, health care workers and displaced persons.

ICN President Dr Pamela Cipriano said:

“ICN condemns all forms of violence, attacks on health care workers, hospitals and ambulances working in conflict zones, whose sole aim is to provide care, treatment, and comfort to the sick, injured and dying. We call on all governments and combatants to uphold the international laws that protect health workers encapsulated in the #NotATarget campaign.

‘The violation of health worker rights is both a health and humanitarian crisis. International humanitarian law must not only be respected but applied on the ground to protect nurses and other health workers at the heart of our health care systems.”

ICN is in close and constant contact with its National Nurses Association members and nurses in the conflict area and has sent messages of condolence and support. To show its solidarity with these nurses, ICN’s #NursesforPeace campaign calls for peace, condemns attacks on healthcare, and supports nurses on the frontlines and welcomes donations to its Humanitarian Fund which will be shared with our National Nurses Associations in the region.

ICN CEO Howard Catton said:

“ICN joins with other international organisations in calling for urgent agreement on implementing safe passage for the populations caught up in the violence and the implementation of a plan to get medical supplies and humanitarian aid into Gaza, where the health system is being devasted, as evidenced by this latest horrific attack.

‘All people who provide healthcare and the people they serve must not be a target as recognised by international law. We deplore the violence and bombings which have caused so much death and destruction; we stand in solidarity with the nurses at the frontlines; and we call for peace and reconciliation. We urge all parties involved in the conflict and the international community to do everything in their power to protect the safety of all of those who often place themselves in mortal danger to care for others. Access to health care and the delivery of humanitarian assistance must remain a priority for all concerned in response to the growing insecurity, health needs and suffering. And that is why inaction on the health and humanitarian response is both inhumane and reprehensible. ICN stands in solidarity with nurses, other health workers and all those people caught up in the escalating violence.”

Last week in a statement, ICN joined colleagues in the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) to call for all parties in the Israel and Gaza conflict to respect and protect access to health care and ensure the safety of civilians and health workers and amplified this message in a subsequent ICN statement earlier this week.

ICN is a founding member of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, whose purpose is to promote respect for international humanitarian and human rights laws that relate to the safety and security of health facilities, health workers, ambulances and patients. ICN works closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other partner organizations on the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) initiative to promote the protection of health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.