Photo by Emad El Byed on Unsplash
Photo by Emad El Byed on Unsplash

The targeting of Gaza’s essential workers and civilian infrastructure is an attack on us all

By Daniel Bertossa

published 14 March 2024 updated 14 March 2024

The article below was written by Daniel Bertossa, General Secretary of Public Services International. We are featuring a segment of the article on the Education International website and encourage you to read the article in full here.

Across Gaza, public service workers face scenes of unimaginable devastation: 392 educational facilities destroyed; 132 water wells out of service; 24 hospitals knocked out with the remaining 11 only partially functional. The entire energy grid remains offline due to fuel import restrictions and the severing of external lines. Lack of electricity has forced desalination and water treatment plants to close with wastewater openly flowing in the streets. Lack of washing facilities is forcing many women to take pills to delay their menstruation.

Yet amid the rubble and the ruins, they persist. Water workers scramble to prevent dehydration after the destruction of pipes and aquifers. Doctors and nurses save lives while fearing for their own. Aid workers face the impossible task of feeding and housing a displaced population the size of Barcelona, within a ‘safe zone’ of a few square kilometres.

Gaza is now the most dangerous place on Earth to practice medicine with over 340 health professionals lost. More than 150 United Nations staff have been killed; the largest death toll in a conflict in the organisation’s 78-year history. As World Health Organization (WHO) director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus puts it: “What type of world do we live in when people cannot get food and water, when health workers are at risk of being bombed as they carry out their life saving work?”


In times of war, essential workers and public services are often all that stands between life and death. This conflict is demonstrating the humanitarian catastrophe caused by their destruction. Our global labour movement will never accept the killing of civilians, the bombing of vital infrastructure or the targeting of our comrades as valid methods of warfare – not in Gaza, nor anywhere else.

Unions can:

  • Advocate for an end to restrictions on aid supplies to restore essential services and to meet the needs of the civilians in Gaza to restore human dignity and rights:
  • Call for unimpeded import of medicines, vaccines, and vital medical equipment to address the healthcare crisis.
  • Demand access to care in medical centers outside of Gaza and free movement for patients including through the opening of the Rafah crossing,
  • Pressure your government to fund provision of public services to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, including funding for UNRWA.
  • Call for your government to support an immediate ceasefire.

Click here to read the article in full.