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Surviving Gaza: the hopes and perils of living under blockade
War in Gaza:: find out how we're responding
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We provide medical and psychological assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict in the West Bank and Gaza.

In Gaza, the local healthcare system is overstretched, underfunded and deeply impacted by a 16-year blockade. We provide assistance to people affected by burns and trauma with a multi-disciplinary approach, which can include surgical care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, health education, and psychosocial support. 
 
In the West Bank, occupation, violence, unemployment and poverty continue to have a profound impact on the mental health of Palestinians. Our teams offer psychological support in Hebron, Nablus, and Qalqilya. 

We provide healthcare services in H2 area, in Hebron city, where Palestinian residents’ movements are subject to restrictions that severely impede their access to healthcare. We also started running mobile clinics to address the health needs of communities in Masafer Yatta, who are facing home demolitions and an increased risk of forcible transfer.

Our activities in 2023 in Palestine

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2023.

MSF in Palestine in 2023 In 2023, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had to quickly adapt activities in Palestine to assist people injured and displaced in the bloody war waged on Gaza by Israel.
Palestine IAR map 2023

Gaza

During the first three-quarters of 2023, our teams continued to deliver specialised medical services in the Gaza Strip, a 40-kilometre-long enclaved area that has now endured more than 15 years of Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Our teams offered support to the overstretched local healthcare system through three hospitals and various outpatient clinics located in different parts of the Strip, as well as the main laboratory, which ran microbiological analysis services for both MSF and non-MSF facilities.

Activities managed by our teams up to that point included comprehensive care for burns and trauma patients, comprising surgery, physiotherapy, psychological support, occupational therapy and health education.

Everything changed on 7 October, when Israel launched its heaviest, most lethal offensive ever on Palestine, following Hamas’ deadly attacks on Israeli soil on the same day. Days of intense, indiscriminate bombing on the Gaza Strip turned into weeks, particularly in the north of the Strip, and MSF teams struggled to keep medical activities up and running while ensuring their own safety.

The situation soon forced the evacuation of our international staff to the south of the Strip, where they were blocked for weeks, before being permitted to leave via the Rafah border. Most of our Palestinian personnel continued to work under imminent threat to their lives, doing their best to provide care in these extreme circumstances. The already strained healthcare system crumbled under the Israeli attack, and hospitals in Gaza City were overwhelmed with patients and people seeking refuge. First-hand observation by MSF teams confirmed that women, children and elderly people represented a very large proportion of the dead and the wounded.

The situation was made even more unbearable by the complete siege of the Strip by the Israeli authorities, who took many weeks to allow food, medical materials, drugs and humanitarian aid into Gaza. Once they did, the amounts permitted were so negligible that they fell far short of people’s needs. Surgeons were reduced to operating on patients without anaesthetics, and emergency care became more and more difficult to perform, while treatment for any conditions that were not immediately life-threatening effectively stopped.

MSF’s social mission includes bearing witness to what we see, and early on in the conflict, we made repeated public calls for a lasting ceasefire as the only meaningful way to spare civilian lives in Gaza. However, the situation quickly worsened, as it became clear that healthcare facilities were themselves coming under attack, and the casualties among medical staff across Gaza began to rise. We mourn the loss of six MSF staff, as well as many other colleagues and their family members, who were killed in Gaza by Israeli forces, and lament the complete or partial destruction of many of Gaza’s hospitals.

At the end of the year, our teams regrouped to develop and adapt our activities in southern Gaza, around Khan Younis and Rafah, although these areas too came under more intense fire. As the war and Israeli siege dragged on, the number of people killed increased every day, and over one million who had been displaced from the north gathered in a small portion of land in the south, where they continue to live in extremely precarious conditions. The lack of food and water had caused an additional strain, and at the end of the year, the threat of malnutrition loomed larger on people who had already lost everything.

By the end of December, MSF was operational in six hospitals (Al-Awda, Al-Aqsa, European, Nasser, Rafah Indonesian and Emirati Maternity hospitals) and one general healthcare facility, Al-Shaboura clinic, located mainly in the Middle Area and South Gaza. There were only a few MSF colleagues still working in Al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza, offering surgical and wound care, physiotherapy, outpatient consultations and mental health services.

The West Bank

The impact of the 7 October attacks was felt across Palestine, including in the West Bank, where occupation-related violence has been steadily increasing for years. The Jenin refugee camp was subjected to several attacks by Israeli forces, resulting in many dead and wounded. Our teams there continued to offer emergency, lifesaving services in Khalil Suleiman hospital, and directly witnessed the extreme violence used by the Israeli forces.

We maintained our mental health activities in Hebron, Nablus, Qalqilya and Tubas, where we offer psychological support, psychotherapy and psychiatric services to people affected by violence. We also support the community emergency response plan, empowering communities to respond to their own health needs. However, our individual, group and family psychotherapy sessions were sometimes disrupted by the violence in the area, which often made movements dangerous for patients and MSF staff alike.

Until September, our medical team was operating regularly in four or five locations in an area of Hebron known as ‘H2’, in the heart of the old city, and in Masafer Yatta, in the southeast of the West Bank, where residents are facing forcible displacement and home demolitions.

Due to the escalation in violence in the West Bank after 7 October, people living in Hebron governorate have been unable to access health services, while severe movement restrictions have prevented healthcare staff from reaching their workplaces. In response to these increasing challenges, we scaled up our activities, running mobile clinics in eight locations across Hebron and Masafer Yatta from November.

 

In 2023
 
GAZA: Al Nasser Hospital. Pedriatric and Maternity
Gaza-Israel war

Living conditions threaten the lives of pregnant women and newborns in Gaza

Project Update 18 Jul 2024
 
From Rafah to Khan Younis, lives in ruins
Gaza-Israel war

No end in sight: The repeated trauma of displacement for people in Gaza

Voices from the Field 10 Jul 2024
 
Nasser hospital
Gaza-Israel war

Supply shortages and patient influxes leave Nasser hospital at breaking point

Press Release 5 Jul 2024
 
Rotation 24 - Disembarkation
Gaza-Israel war

Statement on accusations against MSF staff member Fadi Al-Wadiya

Statement 27 Jun 2024
 
Am Timan Hospital
Gaza-Israel war

MSF response to Israeli allegations linked to colleague’s killing

Statement 26 Jun 2024
 
black background
Gaza-Israel war

Remembering our colleagues killed in Gaza

Project Update 26 Jun 2024
 
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Gaza-Israel war

MSF colleague killed in Gaza City

Statement 25 Jun 2024
 
From Rafah to Khan Younis, lives in ruins
Gaza-Israel war

MSF-supported health facilities across Gaza face critical shortage of medical supplies

Project Update 21 Jun 2024
 
Mental health in Gaza
Gaza-Israel war

Without a ceasefire, healing mental trauma in Gaza is impossible

Voices from the Field 20 Jun 2024