August 23, 2011

Given the events of recent days, MSF is staying prepared in the event that there is any escalation of strife in Gaza.

On Thursday, August 18, terrorist attacks in southern Israel near the Egyptian border killed eight Israelis and wounded approximately 20 more. It was the deadliest operation carried out against Israel since 2008.

That afternoon, the Israeli military began launching aerial raids in the southern reaches of the Gaza Strip. Subsequently, Palestinian militants shot rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. To date, 15 Palestinians, including three children, have been killed and 50 have been wounded. One Israeli was killed and 18 were wounded, including two children.

MSF works out of two clinics in the Gaza Strip, one in Gaza City and the other in Rafah, at Gaza’s southernmost edge. The organization has pre-positioned ready-to-use surgical and burn kits there.

In early August, MSF inflatable hospital tents were lent to Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, the referral facility for all of southern Gaza. They can accommodate additional equipment and staff if necessary. On August 19, five nurses and four doctors from our Palestinian team in Gaza received emergency treatment kits.

We are closely following the number of wounded admitted to hospitals and have determined that the situation is not critical at this time. We are monitoring the situation in coordination with the other NGOs working in Gaza, with a particular eye toward changes in security conditions.

On Sunday, August 21, the program manager, the project manager and the medical coordinator were able to return to Gaza. They will try to get to the hospitals to evaluate needs and revise our activities if necessary. The other members of the expatriate team are in Jerusalem for now so that we will be able to deploy other medical activities in Gaza if the situation deteriorates.

MSF has been working in the Gaza Strip since 2000. We currently provide mental health care, rehabilitation (physical therapy and dressings) and surgery.