December 30, 2009
Palestinian Territories 2009 © MSF
The Israeli military operation, Cast Lead, began on December 27, 2008. It involved intensive aerial bombing of the Gaza Strip and a land offensive launched on January 3, 2009. The operation was carried out to stop rocket fire into Israel and to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas, specifically by destroying tunnels dug under the Egyptian border. The Gaza War ended on January 18, 2009, after a 22-day offensive. It took a serious toll, leaving 1,300 Palestinians dead—including 900 civilians, 300 of whom were children—and wounding an additional 5,300 people, according to the United Nations.
The quality of health services, already fragile, continues to decline
Palestinian Territories 2009 © Frederic Sautereau / Oeil Public
Gaza’s health care system's ability to function properly has been weakened considerably. Most medical equipment is unreliable and the embargo makes it impossible to obtain certain spare parts. Similarly, medical units also face drug shortages.
Domestic violence has become a major social problem. During the war, the lack of safe shelter providing protection against almost non-stop bombing and the continued sealing of the borders have trapped the civilian population, placing people in a very vulnerable position. They have lost all sense of security, which is fundamental to general psychological well-being. The World Health Organization estimates that between 20,000 and 50,000 people will have long-term illness following the offensive.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)