College Head of Medicine: “I can no longer stay silent about the catastrophe in Gaza”

Professor Colin Doherty noted thousands in Gaza are without care as healthcare workers are killed or arrested

Trinity’s Head of the School of Medicine has said he can “no longer stay silent about the current catastrophe unfolding in Gaza” and has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. 

In a letter seen by Trinity News addressed to students and staff in the School of Medicine, Professor Colin Doherty said he felt he must address the “current conflict in the Middle East”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also C.C’ed in the letter. 

“As a physician and the Head of a Medical School, I feel the need to say something about the effect of this war on healthcare workers and the places they work,” he wrote.

“I recognise and agonise with Jewish, Muslim, and other Israeli citizens who were viciously attacked, murdered, and raped by Hamas militants on Oct 7 2023, but in the spirit of compassion for all human life, I cannot stay silent about the current catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.”

He noted healthcare workers in Gaza are facing “an impossible task, being asked to provide treatment under unimaginable conditions, some even paying for their professionalism with their lives”.

“The reality is that Gaza is being destroyed,” he wrote.

“The unconscionable toll of thousands of civilian deaths, and injuries, most of them women and children, has seen the complete destruction of the healthcare infrastructure.

“From the ruins of Gaza, we are already witnessing the emergence of starvation, communicable diseases and widespread psychological trauma.”

Doherty said children, pregnant women, the chronically ill and those with additional needs in Gaza are being “abandoned” as healthcare workers die or are arrested. 

Hospitals in Gaza have become a target for the Israeli military who allege they are being used as bases by Hamas fighters, something Hamas and healthcare workers deny, leaving the majority of facilities destroyed.

In Nasser Hospital, the last major medical facility still functioning in the Gaza Strip, there are five physicians left attending to patients.

Doherty went on to echo the demands of the United Nations “for all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law”.

“I call for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians held hostage,” he wrote. 

“The people of Gaza and the infrastructure they rely on – including hospitals, shelters, and schools – must be protected.

“Accordingly, I also call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

“I particularly call for the protection of healthcare workers who put their lives on the line every day to provide succour to men, women and children caught up in this senseless violence.”

Doherty concluded the letter by asking students and staff to support relief organisations such as Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF, as well as directing them to the Trinity Global “response to global incidents” support network.

Over 100,000 people in Gaza have been killed, injured or gone missing since October 7, according to the UN.

Trinity BDS also organised a protest today on campus calling on College to cut ties with Israeli institutions.

Aoibhinn Clancy

Aoibhínn Clancy is the Deputy News Editor of Trinity News and is currently in her Junior Sophister Year studying History and Political Science.

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor