Skip to main content

    Israel - Gaza War: Our response

    Update

    Doctors Without Borders is horrified that Al-Shifa hospital is in ruins after a 14-day long operation by Israeli forces in and around the facility. Gaza’s largest hospital is now out of service. Given the extent of the destruction, people in the north are left with even fewer healthcare options.

    The escalation of violence broke out in Gaza and Israel on 7 October. This has led to heavy Israeli bombardment and indiscriminate attacks, leaving thousands of people injured, and many killed.  More than 2.2 million people are currently trapped in Gaza and grave humanitarian need.

    Today, almost 85% of the Gazan population has been forcibly displaced by the Israeli forces. People are now living in rough conditions, with a lack of food, clean drinking water, shelters, health services and proper hygiene. And specifically, Rafah which has now become the most densely populated area in the Gaza Strip.

    Doctors Without Borders is calling for: 

    • An immediate and permanent ceasefire to prevent more deaths in Gaza and restore and scale up the flow of humanitarian aid on which the survival of the population of Gaza depends. 

    • Stop indiscriminate bombings and attacks against hospitals, medical facilities, and medical staff to protect them along with civilians. Nothing can justify the bombing of thousands of civilians, including medical workers and patients.   

    • The Israeli authorities to lift the siege to allow an unconditional and continuous flow of humanitarian supplies and personnel to cross into Gaza, including essential items such as water and fuel, while ensuring a safe passage to reach the people with greatest needs in the entirety of the Gaza Strip.  

    Will you support our emergency response work?

    Help us provide lifesaving medical care during emergencies by making a donation today.

     

    Latest update

    Gaza: Al-Shifa hospital in ruins
    Gaza: Al-Shifa hospital in ruins
    Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)is horrified that Al-Shifa hospital is in ruins after a 14-day long operation by Israeli force...
    Gaza: Warring parties must ensure safety of staff and patients in Al-Shifa hospital
    Gaza: Warring parties must ensure safety of staff and patients in Al-Shifa hospital
    Jerusalem, 18 March 2024 - As Israeli Forces announced on 18 March that they were conducting a military operation inside and around Al-Shifa hospital ...
    US plan for temporary pier in Gaza a 'glaring distraction'
    US plan for temporary pier in Gaza a 'glaring distraction'
    The US should insist on immediate humanitarian access using existing roads and entry points.
    Gaza: People killed while waiting for food aid
    Gaza: People killed while waiting for food aid
    Over 100 people were killed and about 750 wounded, according to local health authorities, after Israeli forces reportedly opened fire as Palestinians ...
    Gaza: Attacks on humanitarian workers make vital assistance near impossible
    Gaza: Attacks on humanitarian workers make vital assistance near impossible
    One month ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued provisional measures ordering Israel to prevent and punish acts of genocide and ensure ...
    Doctors Without Borders to UN Security Council: The people of Gaza need an immediate and sustained ceasefire now
    Doctors Without Borders to UN Security Council: The people of Gaza need an immediate and sustained ceasefire now
    In an address today, Doctors Without Borders Secretary General called for urgent action in Gaza.
    Gaza: Displaced people forced to evacuate Nasser hospital have nowhere to go
    Gaza: Displaced people forced to evacuate Nasser hospital have nowhere to go
    Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) strongly condemns the decision by Israeli Forces to issue an evacuation order to thousands of...
    Gaza: Lack of clean water brings disease and suffering
    Gaza: Lack of clean water brings disease and suffering
    The long line is visible from afar, hundreds of people of all ages, most of them holding distinctive yellow or blue 40-litre jerrycans. Some live in t...

    Situation in Gaza 

    On December 9, the Doctors Without Borders team reopened the Al-Shaboura clinic in Rafah's Al-Mawasi area. We provided medical assistance to over 130 patients on the first day, with half of them suffering from respiratory tract infections due to prolonged exposure to cold and rain. Our teams have already started providing antenatal consultations as well.

    However, the unhygienic conditions in the area are unacceptable, with 600 people sharing one toilet, leading to numerous cases of diarrhea, particularly among children. We are providing mental health consultations to those affected and urge immediate action to improve the living conditions in the area.

    Our teams are witnessing a surge in the number of patients, with up to 250 patients seeking medical attention every day. We are providing much-needed mental health consultations to around 30 patients daily, and our team attends to 40 patients every day who require minor surgical procedures and a change of dressing for infected wounds.

    Doctors Without Borders calls for an immediate and sustained ceasefire that will spare the lives of Gazans and restore the flow of humanitarian aid on which the survival of the population of Gaza depends. We are calling for the protection of civilians and healthcare facilities on both sides, at all times.

    Attack on Doctors Without Borders-supported hospitals

    The health system in Gaza is also under attack. Between 7 October and 9 December, 286 healthcare workers were killed in the Gaza Strip, 57 ambulances were hit and damaged. 

    7 October: Airstrike very close to Indonesian and An-Nasser hospitals. Both were supported by Doctors Without Borders. 

    10 October: An outpatient department at Doctors Without Borders Gaza clinic was damaged in an Israeli airstrike. The entrance of the dressing room and sedation room caved in, and windows were shattered. 

    11 October: Airstrike very close to Al-Awda hospital in north Gaza, where Doctors Without Borders has been operating since 2018. The blast caused damage to the hospital, but the hospital continued to function. 

    13 October: Israeli forces gave just two hours to evacuate Doctors Without Borders-supported Al-Awda hospital. The hospital was not hit however, there was a sustained bombing close to the hospital as medical staff worked to refer patients to other hospitals. The hospital was damaged again in this further bombing. 

    30 October: Doctors Without Borders-supported Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital in Gaza was hit by a projectile, causing serious damage to the third floor of the building. The hospital stopped completely to function when it ran out of fuel on 1 November. It was the only public hospital with an oncology ward in the Gaza Strip. 

    3 November: An ambulance was directly hit and destroyed outside Al-Shifa hospital, resulting in the death of many. 

    Since 10 November: Multiple and repeated attacks on various hospitals have been reported and/or witnessed by Doctors Without Borders staff in northern Gaza, including on the biggest medical complex, Al-Shifa hospital. 

    18 November: Doctors Without Borders evacuation convoy from Al-Shifa hospital was fired on, killing two people in what appeared to be a deliberate attack by Israeli forces on identified Doctors Without Borders cars.  

    20 November: Doctors Without Borders clinic in Gaza city was damaged by the Israeli forces, which was preceded by deliberate destruction of our cars by Israeli heavy military vehicles. 

    21 November: A strike hit Al-Awda hospital. In this attack, two of our doctors, Dr. Mahmoud Abu Nujaila and Dr. Ahmad Al Sahar, and another doctor, Dr. Ziad Al-Tatari, were killed. 

    24 November:  A minibus sent from the south of Gaza for another evacuation attempt of Doctors Without Borders staff and their relatives was destroyed by the Israeli forces. 

    1 December: Just hours after the truce ended, a blast damaged Al-Awda hospital.  

    5 December: Al-Awda hospital is facing a total siege. They cannot move, and there are snipers surrounding the hospital. In the days following the commencement of this siege, two members of medical staff at the hospital were shot and killed. 

    11 December: A Doctors Without Borders surgeon was injured inside Al-Awda hospital by a shot fired from outside the facility. Our colleagues report snipers surrounding the hospital, firing on those inside. Al-Awda hospital has been under total siege by Israeli forces since 5 December. 

    17 December: Israeli forces take control of Al-Awda hospital after a 12-day siege. Males over 16 years old are taken, stripped and interrogated – six Doctors Without Borders staff among them. After the interrogations, most of them are sent back into the hospital and told not to move. 

    6 January: Al-Aqsa Hospital is evacuated after fighting gets close and evacuation orders put the Doctors Without Borders pharmacy inside exclusion area. A sniper bullet broke through the intensive care unit wall on January 5th.

    8 January: Doctors Without Borders shelter in Khan Yunis was struck by a tank shell, killing the 5-year-old daughter of our staff.

    22 January: Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis is surrounded by fighting, bombing, and evacuation orders. Strikes are killing people as close as 150 meters from hospital entrance, staff report.

    15 February: A shell struck the orthopedic department; staff members fled the compound, leaving behind several patients. One Doctors Without Borders staff was detained at a checkpoint by Israeli forces, and is still in their custody.

    20 February: An Israeli tank fired on a house sheltering Doctors Without Borders colleagues and their families, killing two people and injuring seven people.

    2 March: A shell struck a shed next to the main entrance of Al-Emirati hospital in Rafah, killing two people and injuring several others.

    How Doctors Without Borders is responding

    Doctors Without Borders remains committed to providing medical care in Gaza. As of March 2024, we are working in three hospitals, one primary healthcare facility, and two health centres. Our teams are offering surgical support, wound care, physiotherapy, outpatients' consultations and mental health services.

    In the North, some of our Palestinian staff are still working autonomously in Al-Awda hospital despite extremely difficult conditions where food and medical supplies are lacking due to airstrikes and nearby fighting.

    In the Middle Area, we provide wound and rehabilitation care, orthopaedic and reconstructive surgery, post-operative wound care, physiotherapy, health promotion and mental health support in Al-Aqsa hospital. Our team also provides wound care and malnutrition screening activities in Al-Martyrs Primary Healthcare Centre.

    In the South, we are supporting more healthcare facilities. Our team is supporting the outpatient department at Rafah Indonesian hospital with post-operative care, physiotherapy, other small procedures, and counselling. In El-Emirati maternity hospital we provide medical supplies, capacity support (gynaecologists, nurses and hygienists) for pre and postpartum care. To allow for more patients getting proper post-delivery monitoring, the teams built an extension of the maternity department in the parking lot of the hospital to increase the postpartum department’s capacity to 26 beds. We are offering primary healthcare consultations, wound dressing, reproductive health services, mental health consultations support, and malnutrition screening at Al-Shaboura clinic, which was previously closed and reopened on December 9. In two Al-Mawasi health posts, we are providing outpatient consultations, ante-natal and post-natal care, mental health, physiotherapy, dressing changes and malnutrition screening for children under five.

    Near Al-Mawasi health posts, Doctors Without Borders teams is supporting two water distribution points. These points provide 15,200 liters of water to over 5,000 people for six days in a week. In nine other locations in Rafah, our teams also provide an average of 220,000 litres of clean water per day to more than 40,000 people. Considering the immense needs, the amount of water distributed is just a drop in the ocean.

    We were also able to send over 100 tons of medical supplies, mainly surgical and dressing kits, into Gaza in two deliveries between October 2023 and February 2024.

    The consequences of casting international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate well beyond Gaza. It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience. This is not just political inaction—it has become political complicity. Two days ago, MSF staff and families were attacked and died in a place they were told would be protected. Today our staff are back at work, risking their lives once again for their patients. What are you willing to risk? We demand the protections promised under International Humanitarian Law. We demand a ceasefire from both parties. We demand the space to turn the illusion of aid into meaningful assistance.
    Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General
    Is Doctors Without Borders providing medical care in Israel?

    We are a humanitarian organisation, which means we treat everyone who needs help, but our resources are not unlimited: we focus them where they are needed the most. We do not currently run medical programs in Israel. However, we are taking every available opportunity to send fresh humanitarian supplies into the Strip, where healthcare facilities urgently need them. The Palestinian healthcare systems, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, have been crippled by over 70 years of occupation and over ten years of blockade. They are unable to meet the basic health needs of their respective populations. In contrast, Israel has an excellent healthcare system and has not requested support from Doctors Without Borders at this time.

    What is Doctors Without Borders doing in Palestine prior to the 7 October conflict?

    In the Palestinian Territories, Doctors Without Borders provides medical and psychological assistance to people affected by the long-term conflict since 1989. In Gaza, our teams work in three hospitals and several outpatient clinics, offering comprehensive care for people suffering from burns and trauma, which includes surgery, physiotherapy, psychological support, occupational therapy, and health education. Since 2018, Doctors Without Borders has been running a reconstructive surgery program in northern Gaza.

    Does Doctors Without Borders have staff in Gaza? What’s their situation?

    All Doctors Without Borders international staff unable to leave Gaza since 7 October have successfully crossed the Egypt border via the Rafah Crossing. A window has been negotiated to allow for foreign passport holders and international aid workers to cross.    

    On 14 November our team of 15 international staff entered Gaza. On 16 November, they started supporting Palestinian surgeons who have been treating on average 9 to 10 mostly burn cases per day. 

    As for our Palestinian staff, it is currently difficult to verify the situation of all our 300 colleagues.  We know that some of them are currently trying to leave for the south with their families. Doctors Without Borders is trying to help them find shelter. Others, notably medical staff, remain in the north and continue to treat the sick and wounded. We do what we can to remain in contact with them.

    What is happening in the West Bank?

    Violent clashes have been breaking out between Israeli forces and settlers and Palestinians in various locations, particularly in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah. As of 23 October, 94 were killed and 1,700 wounded since the conflict started on 7 October. Israeli armed forces announced the West Bank as a closed area. Checkpoints remain closed and workers are not allowed to cross to Israel. Work permits of Palestinians were suspended, and many were ordered to leave Israel. Our team in Hebron is in contact with the Ministry of Health and hospitals in the West Bank to assess their needs daily.  

    In the meantime, we’re preparing some donations to deliver to health facilities. In addition, we are providing remote mental health support to the population including psychological first aid services and counselling to help reduce stress during this conflict. We’re also in contact with community focal points, for them to raise any major need for us to respond to. 

    Regions in Palestine where MSF had projects in 2022

    Scroll through the conflict timeline

    Support our medical response

    You can help our medical teams deliver emergency medical supplies and treatment to people who need it most by making a donation today.