New Editorial on Civilian Mortality and Damage to Medical Facilities in Gaza

May 23, 2024 | News

In an editorial published in BMJ Global Health, researchers, including PRI Racial Equity and Social Determinants of Health Faculty Co-Lead, A Kayum Ahmed, write about the collapse of public health infrastructure in Gaza. Using data from a study by Poole and colleagues that analyzed damage to medical and non-medical buildings in Gaza from October 7 to November 7, 2023, they found that 9% of both medical and non-medical buildings were damaged, indicating no special protection for medical facilities. The study also highlights concerns about compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution by the Israeli military. The high proportion of civilian casualties, particularly women and children, suggests inadequate efforts to avoid harming civilians, raising potential issues of war crimes and breaches of the Genocide Convention.

Key Findings

  1. Damage to Buildings: 9% of both medical and non-medical buildings in Gaza were damaged.
  2. Lack of Protection for Medical Facilities: No evidence that medical buildings were spared compared to non-medical buildings.
  3. Civilian Casualties: High civilian mortality, with women and children constituting 67% of those killed.
  4. IHL Principles: Questions raised about adherence to IHL principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution.
  5. Potential War Crimes: Findings suggest insufficient attempts to avoid civilian casualties, potentially amounting to war crimes.
  6. Calls for Accountability: Emphasis on the need for investigative and accountability mechanisms for all parties involved.


Authors share significant concerns about the protection of civilians and medical facilities in Gaza amidst ongoing conflict. The data suggests a troubling disregard for international humanitarian laws, with high civilian casualties and indiscriminate damage to infrastructure. These findings call for urgent international scrutiny and accountability to address potential violations and ensure the protection of human life in conflict zones.

Read the full editorial at BMJ Global Health,