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SOUTH LEBANON

'The least we can do': Protest at Health Ministry in solidarity with hospitals targeted by Israel

Hospitals near the Lebanese-Israeli border are still working and "have not closed one day" since the start of the hostilities, an official at the Health Ministry says.

'The least we can do': Protest at Health Ministry in solidarity with hospitals targeted by Israel

A protest held in front of the Ministry of Public Health in Beirut on June 3 in solidarity with hospitals and healthcare workers in southern Lebanon. (Credit: Mohammad Yassine)

BEIRUT —More than a hundred people protested in front of the Ministry of Public Health in Beirut on Monday in solidarity with hospitals and medical staff in southern Lebanon. Last week, an Israeli airstrike targeted the entrance of the Salah Ghandour hospital in Bint Jbeil, killing two civilians.

Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire on a daily basis since October, in parallel with the Gaza war. Israel has repeatedly targeted hospitals, health centers, and paramedics throughout the war, killing 20 medics, many of whom belonged to health associations affiliated with Hezbollah and other political groups. 

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Present on the ground, L'Orient Today witnessed people raising Lebanese flags and banners in front of the ministry, located in Bir Hassan, in Beirut's southern suburbs. One banner read: "We condemn all Israeli attacks, especially on health and medical institutions." 

Demonstrators included caretaker Health Minister Firas Abiad, Chairman of the Parliamentary Health Committee Bilal Abdallah, the president of the syndicate of Hospitals Sleiman Haroun. members of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Lebanese Civil Defense, and doctors.  

"Amid Israel's attacks, the least we can do is to protest," one of the protesters told L'Orient Today. He recalled Israel's attacks on hospitals in Gaza, saying that now Lebanon's healthcare system is being targeted too.

'A red line'

Following the protest, the Director of the Medical Healthcare Directorate at the Ministry of Public Health, Joseph Helou, interviewed by L'Orient Today, said that "direct attacks on hospitals can not be accepted and the targeting of medical hospitals or medical staff is a red line and all Lebanese people agree on that."

"According to international norms, medical staff and health facilities cannot be targeted — but according to Israel, nothing is forbidden," he added.

Despite the risks, hospitals near the Lebanese-Israeli border are still working, Helou said, and "have not closed one day" since the start of the fighting.

"With Israel, anything can happen, as it does not differentiate between kids, old people, doctors," Helou said.

In March, the Middle East chief of The International Committee of the Red Cross Fabrizio Carboni said during a visit to southern Lebanon that was worried an escalation of fighting along the border would further strain hospitals already struggling financially amid a national economic crisis.

BEIRUT —More than a hundred people protested in front of the Ministry of Public Health in Beirut on Monday in solidarity with hospitals and medical staff in southern Lebanon. Last week, an Israeli airstrike targeted the entrance of the Salah Ghandour hospital in Bint Jbeil, killing two civilians.Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire on a daily basis since October, in parallel with the...