Why are we there?

  • Armed conflict

Update: July 18, 2014

MSF sent additional staff and resources into Gaza on Thursday to support Gaza City’s al Shifa hospital, but one surgeon was refused entry at the border, reportedly because of a paperwork discrepancy. During a brief lull in the bombing, 28 patients managed to reach MSF’s clinic in Gaza City, more than had been able to access the facility since Israel's current military campaign begin.

With the onset of a ground invasion by the Israeli Defense Force and the resumption of aerial bombing, however, mobility has once again become constricted and medical facilities are preparing for new waves of casualties from a campaign that has already resulted in more than 200 deaths, a frighteningly high percentage of them civilians, including many women and children, in the densely packed Gaza Strip.

MSF staff in KhanYounis and Rafah distributed dressing kits for patients living in the south of the Gaza strip, where growing numbers of people who’ve evacuated their homes after warnings by the IDF to do so are seeking whatever shelter they can find.

Update: July 15, 2014

As of July 15, 2014, aerial attacks in Gaza have killed at least 173 Palestinians and wounded upwards of 1,263, according to the Ministry of Health; the first Israeli fatality was recorded on Tuesday as well, after a rocket fired from Gaza killed a man near the Erez border crossing. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 77 percent of the casualties reported inside Gaza have been civilians. An MSF clinic in Gaza City remains open, but only 11 out of 87 patients registered for follow-up consultations have arrived. However, Al Shifa hospital is referring burn patients to MSF, including four new cases—all children under five years of age—on July 14.

Update: July 10, 2014

Israel launched a military offensive (Operation Protective Edge) in Gaza this week, in response to rockets launched from Gaza into Israel. Bombings are still very intense, with an average of 10 strikes per hour across the Gaza strip, and casualties are mounting. A reduced MSF team has been able to re-open its post-op clinic in Gaza City this morning, and a dozen pre-existing patients have so far come for their follow-up treatment.

As of today, Gaza hospitals are still able to respond to emergency needs, but pre-existing shortages of drugs and disposables could cause the situation to worsen. MSF has proposed donations and HR support. An MSF surgical team is on stand-by in case a ground operation is launched.

Update: July 9, 2014

Last night, more that 80 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel (some reaching population centers near Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa). The Israeli Defense Forces responded with strikes against Gaza. Official figures put the number of deaths at 25, with 180 wounded, all Palestinian. Violence is also on the rise in the West Bank.

Since 2010, MSF has run a post-surgery clinic (dressings and physiotherapy) in Gaza City, where 80 per cent of the patients suffer from severe burns. Our teams also run a specialized hand surgery in Nasser hospital, and provide intensive care training to medical and paramedical staff at Nasser and Al-Shifa hospitals.

MSF teams are currently on stand-by. They are preparing dressing kits to be distributed directly to patients once movements can be renewed. So far, hospitals in Gaza are able to cope and are not overwhelmed. MSF has proposed donations of medical material and medicines and is prepared to respond to any emergency needs by reinforcing its medical team with additional surgical capacities if the context allows. In the West Bank, an MSF team is providing psychological first aid to people affected by violence. It receives referrals for specialized psychiatric needs from other organizations.

Our work

This is an excerpt from MSF-USA's 2012 Annual Report:

The Israeli embargo, the financial crisis, and chronic infighting among Palestinian parties contributed to the further deterioration of the public health system in Gaza and the West Bank.

MSF teams perform specialized surgery, post-operative care, and physiotherapy in Nasser hospital in Gaza’s Khan Yunis city; most patients are children with burns. During Israel’s “Pillar of Defense” military operation in November, the post-operative clinic received wounded patients and conducted minor surgery. MSF also sent an emergency team to Gaza and donated drugs and medical supplies.

In the West Bank, where MSF offered medical, psychological, and psychosocial care in Nablus and Hebron, the number of psychological consultations increased by 50 percent.

In East Jerusalem, where MSF provides psychological and social services, patient numbers tripled. Almost half were 18 or younger. Anxiety, depression, behavioral issues, post-traumatic stress, and conditions related to domestic or settler violence were common.

Staff help a patient outside the post-operative care clinic at Nasser hospital, Gaza. © Isabelle Merny / MSF

At the end of 2012, MSF had 96 staff in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. MSF has been working in the country since 1989.

Patient story


In March 2008, Fatima, Mohammed and their three children were evicted from their home by the Israeli army.

“Because of what happened to our house, the children were affected. One of them started to stammer; the teacher wasn’t able to understand him.

"All three children started wetting the bed. An MSF counselor sat with the children and helped calm them down, and I learned how to deal with the children at night.

"I myself felt anxious, but the counselor also helped me deal with psychological issues.”

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