Our response to the Israel-Gaza war

At Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), we are grieving the widespread suffering and death stemming from the eruption of full-scale war in Israel and Gaza. We are calling for all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians and medical facilities.

In Gaza, hospitals and other health facilities have been damaged. It has now become dangerous for people to seek medical care.

With no electricity, food, water or medical items available for Gaza’s residents, the situation continues to worsen with every passing day. We are urging for an immediate cessation of indiscriminate bloodshed.

MSF does not currently run medical programs in Israel. This is because we focus on filling the greatest gaps in health care, and Israel has strong emergency and health systems. MSF has offered its support to Israeli hospitals treating large numbers of casualties following attacks by Hamas militants on October 7.

MSF teams have been working in Gaza for 20 years, providing medical care and support to a health system that urgently lacks both medical personnel and supplies. Our teams have been working in three hospitals and several outpatient clinics, offering comprehensive care for people suffering from burns and trauma. Since 2018, we have  been running a reconstructive surgery program in northern Gaza.

Our reporting on the current escalation of the conflict is focused on the direct witnessing of our patients and staff on the ground in Gaza. Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and experiencing shortages of drugs, medical supplies, and fuel for generators. 

In the West Bank, our work includes psychological and psychiatric services for people affected by violence, support for community health centers and emergency response plans, and basic health care through our clinics, in addition to support for Jenin hospital.

On Monday, October 9, we treated 50 people at the MSF-supported Al-Awda hospital after Israeli airstrikes hit a nearby refugee camp in northern Gaza. Local staff provide surgical and inpatient care in Al-Awda hospital, mostly treating gunshot wounds and injuries from shrapnel. MSF has supported the Indonesian hospital and Nasser hospital in southern Gaza since 2021 and 2011, respectively.

Prior to the current conflict, our regular operations in Gaza included providing comprehensive care for people suffering from burns and trauma, which includes surgery, physiotherapy, psychological support, occupational therapy, and health education. We have also been running a reconstructive surgery program in northern Gaza, and our teams support laboratories in identifying and treating antibiotic-resistant infections.

MSF is committed to supporting the people affected by Israel’s heavy bombardment and indiscriminate attacks on Gaza. We want to be able to access people in need of medical care and provide lifesaving humanitarian services. To do this, we need an immediate ceasefire, the ability to bring urgent supplies and personnel into Gaza, and basic guarantees of safety. 

In Hebron, our medical team has performed phone assessments among Palestinian residents and the displaced population, and has referred patients in need of medical or mental health care, as well as social services. We continue to provide mental health services including psychological first aid, counseling, and psychotherapy to affected communities, often remotely.  

Our team also continues to assess the situation in hospitals and has already provided donations to Alia Hospital in Hebron, including surgical kits. We also donated first aid kits to community focal points in Beit Omar, Al Rshaydeh, and to the emergency care center in Um El Khair.  

In Nablus, MSF teams are conducting psychological first aid group sessions in three districts.  

In Jenin, there are more than 400 Gazans living in five centers, where the local community and Ministry of Health are helping with clothes, food, and phone cards. Many people need mental health support as they learn the fate of family members in Gaza. We’re offering accompaniment, information, medication for people living with chronic conditions, and transportation to health centers for Gazans.  

On October 25, an airstrike hit Jenin refugee camp. MSF teams received multiple critically injured patients at Jenin hospital, where our doctors are providing lifesaving medical care.  

Our team is also preparing for mass casualty and emergency responses. In anticipation of roadblocks during active hostilities, we have donated drugs and equipment to seven primary health care centers so they can respond to emergencies, including deliveries. In the refugee camps of Nur Shams in Tulkarem and Jenin Camp, we donated first aid bags to volunteer paramedics so they can stabilize patients during outbreaks of violence and keep them alive until they can reach a hospital.  

Attacks on health care facilities, vehicles, and personnel have disrupted our ability to respond to the emergency in Gaza. On Saturday, October 7, Israeli air strikes hit Indonesian hospital and an ambulance in front of Nasser hospital, killing a nurse and an ambulance driver and injuring several others. Both hospitals are supported by MSF. Our clinic in Gaza City was slightly damaged by an explosion on Monday, October 9, but still operational. The intense aerial bombardment has made it extremely dangerous to transfer patients to health facilities. Ambulances cannot be used because they are being hit by air strikes.

On October 9, Israel announced a ‘complete siege’ on Gaza, blocking access to food, water, electricity, and fuel to all residents. Palestinians in Gaza were already suffering from the impacts of 16 years under military blockade. MSF teams are seeing the impact of the new restrictions, including shortages of fuel supplies hospitals rely on for their generators. Some hospitals only have enough fuel to last a few days. In Ministry of Health hospitals, medical staff report that they are running out of anesthetics and painkillers. MSF moved medical supplies from our emergency reserves to Al Awda hospital, but used up three weeks’ worth of stock in three days.

Late on the night of October 12, Israel ordered more than one million people living in northern Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours and move to the southern part of the territory. MSF called the order “outrageous,” and said such a mass evacuation would only deepen the humanitarian crisis. We are calling for safe spaces and safe passage for civilians trapped in Gaza.

MSF provides medical care to anyone who needs it, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. We are calling on all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians, medical facilities, and personnel. Hospitals must remain a sanctuary for people seeking care.

MSF is calling for:

An immediate cessation of indiscriminate bloodshed and massive attacks
Protection for civilians and health care facilities on both sides, at all times
Protection for medical facilities and personnel
Access to people in need of medical care and humanitarian aid, including the sick and wounded
Basic safety guarantees so we can provide humanitarian and medical services

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