South Africa: Health Workers Picket for Palestine Outside Red Cross Children’s Hospital

Organisers call for immediate ceasefire

More than 300 health workers gathered outside the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town on Tuesday to show support for the people of Palestine.

The picket took place during morning rush hour traffic. Drivers of ambulances, taxis and other vehicles hooted their support for the picket. Protesters waved Palestinian flags and held banners that read “Hospitals are not Battlefields”, and “Stand for Children”.

More than 200 health workers have been killed and at least 130 wounded in Gaza in the last five weeks according to NPR.

In a statement, Health Care Workers For Palestine (HCW4P) called for an immediate ceasefire and unrestricted access to humanitarian aid. They also called for hospitals and clinics to be allowed to operate without fear of being bombed.

One of the organisers, Professor Gregory Hussey, who used to work at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, said the hospital had been chosen as a venue because it was the biggest children’s hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We wanted to use it as a symbol for our struggle for Palestine, especially for children and healthcare workers,” he said.

Hussey said thousands of children had been maimed, thousands more were missing, and thousands more would be orphans.

He said health workers in Gaza had taken strain in the last five weeks. “Hospitals are supposed to be a safe space for healthcare workers to provide the necessary care for children.”

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert said “an alliance of healthcare workers” was being formed “to rebuild the healthcare system in Gaza”. Gilbert has been working in emergency medicine in Gaza since the early 2000s and recently returned from a stint on the Egypt-Gaza border.

Gilbert is head of the emergency medicine department at the University Hospital of North Norway and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Tromsø. Tromsø is twinned with Gaza City.

On Monday night Gilbert had spoken to an audience of nearly 200 people at Darul Islam School in Athlone.