After four months of war, MSF teams continue to provide vital medical humanitarian care in Gaza, despite immense challenges.
At least 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza, over 65,000 wounded and approximately 1.9 million people have been displaced within Gaza (OCHA). In the West Bank a further 312 people have died and over 6,000 have been injured.
MSF medical teams are working around the clock in five hospitals and a primary healthcare facility in the middle area and south of Gaza to respond to overwhelming influxes of patients.
Hundreds of casualties arrive each day to the hospital's emergency rooms. Our Palestinian and international staff are providing surgical support and wound care, including to patients with traumatic injuries and severe burns, physiotherapy, outpatients' consultations, and mental health services.
We have been able to send over 75 tons of medical supplies, mainly surgical and dressing kits, into Gaza in two deliveries – one in October, one in November and one in January. These are mainly being used at Nasser hospital, while some were delivered to the Rafah Clinic, the European Hospital and Shaboura clinic. Bringing supplies into Gaza has been extremely difficult due to administrative barriers, movement restrictions, and a large backlog of trucks at the border.
On 21 November 2023 two MSF doctors, Dr Mahmoud Abu Nujaila and Dr Ahmad Al Sahar, were killed during a strike on Al Awda Hospital, then one of the last remaining functional hospitals in Northern Gaza.
On 8 January 2024, a strike on an MSF shelter killed the daughter of an MSF staff member
In total, four MSF staff members have been killed since the beginning of the war, including numerous family members. MSF is horrified by these killings, and condemns them in the strongest terms.
Hospitals are not a target
The health system is continuously under attack in Gaza. Hospitals and ambulances are under attack, patients and medical staff are being injured and killed. The access to the wounded and sick is impeded by insecurity, lack of fuel and cell phone connectivity.
Most of Gaza’s hospitals are out of service as the electrical power and water have been cut off due to lack of fuel and also to the damage healthcare facilities sustained in multiple attacks. While some hospitals are closed, the others function with very limited resources, often unable to admit new patients due to lack or absence of medical supplies and medication, fuel, food and water. Medical staff working in Gaza are utterly exhausted and do what they can in impossible conditions.
We are horrified by the bombing and targeting of medical facilities in Gaza. Nothing justifies attacks on the patients and health workers. Hospitals are not a target.
Medical staff should not have to choose between saving their own lives and those of their patients.
MSF's emergency response in Gaza
In the first days of the airstrikes on Gaza, MSF was able to continue coordinating medical activities. and supporting hospitals in the Strip. We scaled up our donations of essential medicines and equipment and set up a clinic in downtown Gaza.
Over 26 tons of medical equipment from MSF and the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in Egypt on October 29. Since then, MSF has managed to deliver its first big international order to Gaza.
A team of international and national MSF staff, including a specialized emergency medical team, entered Gaza on 14 November and will support MSF’s larger-scale response as soon as the situation allows. Meanwhile, many of our Palestinian colleagues continue to work and provide lifesaving care in hospitals and across the Gaza Strip amid extremely difficult conditions.
In Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza, our team has started working in a primary health clinic. Since the start of activities in Khan Yunis, our team has conducted 1,300 consultations, mainly with people wounded from bombings. Our surgeons are performing around 9 to 10 surgeries per day.
After seven days of truce, the fighting has restarted, and our teams have heard shooting in Rafah and Khan Younis. Areas in the south received an evacuation order from Israeli forces, two clinics where MSF is working are subject to these orders.
The number of trucks so far allowed to deliver aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing is totally insufficient compared to the desperate needs of the people. It is vital that more aid is delivered to Gaza on a regular basis and that a safe passage is ensured to allow aid to reach areas where the needs are greatest. MSF stand ready to deliver medical supplies to Gaza if given an opportunity to do so.
MSF's emergency response in the West Bank
Amid an increase in violence in the West Bank, our teams are supporting emergency care and mental health care in Hebron, Nablus, and Jenin.
In Hebron, our team has prepared medical kits with medications to be distributed to around 40 MSF patients suffering from chronic diseases. Our team has also performed phone assessments, referring those in need of medical, mental health, or social services. Mental health services continue to be offered, mostly remotely.
In Nablus, psychological first aid group sessions are being conducted in three districts. MSF provides psychotherapy, case management and psychiatric care to people living with severe mental illness.
In Jenin, more than 400 Gazans who were legally working in Israel had their permits cancelled after 7 October. Today, they are living in temporary shelters in precarious conditions; an MSF team has visited them and provided support.
Another MSF project in Jenin aims to strengthen the Ministry of Health’s capacity at Khalil Suleiman Hospital to respond to an increasingly violent context and its consequences. We are providing medical supplies as well as training local medical staff in mass casualty plans and emergency triage. Since 7 October, MSF teams have been responding through trauma care, mental health support, and essential donations to displaced communities.