The only Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinic in the Gaza Strip was demolished by Israel Defense Forces warplanes following the deadly Hamas attack on Israeli civilians, prompting a round of Israel-bashing.
The Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association, described as the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s “local member association in Palestine,” said its Gaza clinic was taken out in a military airstrike, leaving “an already extremely vulnerable population with even fewer options.”
“On 8 October, PFPPA’s only center in Gaza was destroyed following an Israeli airstrike to an adjacent building, completely cutting off their ability to offer healthcare to women who have already been systematically denied sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights by the Israeli occupation,” the press release on the IPPF website said.
The statement hit the Israeli “occupation,” “bombardment” and “illegal blockade,” but barely mentioned Hamas, a recognized foreign terrorist organization that has controlled Gaza since 2006, except to call its militants “armed fighters.”
Hamas terrorists killed more than 1,300 people in Israel, including women and children, in a surprise attack Saturday launched from the Gaza Strip, causing Israel to declare war on Hamas.
“Over the past few days, we have watched in horror the escalating violence between Hamas armed fighters and Israeli Occupational forces, the loss of civilian lives and the targeting of health facilities,” the IPPF said.
Alvaro Bermejo, IPPF director-general, said the organization is “deeply concerned about civilians caught up in the recent attacks, and we are devastated by the loss of civilian lives.”
About 1,800 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
“Our local teams are now contingency planning to address not only the needs of those trapped in Gaza amid escalating violence, but also the more than five million Palestinians currently living under Israeli occupation who will require critical support to continue accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare,” Mr. Bermejo said in the Thursday statement.
Ammal Awadallah, the association’s executive director, urged that humanitarian aid be allowed into Gaza, saying that the clinic is “unusable and our options to provide referrals to hospitals are decreasing by the hour.”
“Palestinians are systematically denied sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights,” she said. “Our health system has been repeatedly targeted and depleted by the Israeli occupation, and the more it disintegrates, the more it will hinder the full realization of these rights for women and girls.”
The specter of International Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider, scolding Jerusalem over “reproductive healthcare” was somewhat ironic, given that abortion is widely available in Israel and not in Muslim-dominated areas like the Gaza Strip.
Under Hamas, abortion is banned in Gaza except in medical emergencies. Some Palestinian women wind up going to Israel to terminate their pregnancies, according to media reports.
Even so, in 2014, “the PFPPA served more than 70,000 women, of whom more than 10,000 who received abortion-related services, a 2015 report in Foreign Policy stated.
An IPPF spokesperson told Newsweek on Friday that the Gaza clinic offered services such as testing, counseling and postnatal care, but not abortion. The Washington Times has contacted the international federation.
The destruction of a @PFPPA clinic in #Gaza after an Israeli airstrike has left an already extremely vulnerable population with even fewer options to receive SRH care without #humanitarian aid.— IPPF Global (@ippf) October 10, 2023
Make an emergency gift here: https://t.co/LKcWGeSGOL pic.twitter.com/1fwxBABeor
Planned Parenthood said the lack of power and medical provisions in the region is putting the lives of thousands of pregnant women at risk.
“Over 37,000 pregnant women will be forced to give birth with no electricity or medical supplies in Gaza in the coming months, risking life-threatening complications without access to delivery and emergency obstetric care services,” the IPPF said.
Ms. Awadallah added: “Without clean water, food, basic medicines and vaccines, innocent women and newborn babies will continue to die.”
International Planned Parenthood also called for donations, saying that they would “provide urgent, lifesaving care to people in Palestine who are living through crisis.”
Israel warned 1 million Palestinians to leave Gaza ahead of an expected ground strike, spurring a mass evacuation Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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