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48 hours of relentless fighting and bombing: A voice note from Gaza

In a message from Gaza, an MSF staff member describes a harrowing scene unfolding at Al-Aqsa Hospital.

Destruction in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

Destroyed buildings in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, photographed in May. | Palestine 2024 © MSF


Update: Al-Aqsa Hospital struggles as Israeli strikes continue

June 6, 2024 — As Israeli military strikes continued last night in the Middle Area, Gaza, Al-Aqsa Hospital is barely coping with the influx of patients and dead people. “It’s a scene of devastation. This hospital is a sinking ship," said Karin Huster, nurse and MSF medical referent in Gaza. "The scene inside the emergency room is even worse than yesterday. They had no chance to reorganize after yesterday's mass influx of casualties, and now they have been struck with another.”

“Patients who arrive at Al-Aqsa in critical condition, stay in Al-Aqsa and die in Al-Aqsa. And yet, medical staff are saying 'we are not giving up on our patients,' and I can definitely see that. I am just not sure for how long it will be sustainable.”

Last updated on June 6, 2024

Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza's Middle Area, which Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supports, has received at least 70 dead and more than 300 wounded patients since Tuesday, following an escalation of fighting and bombings over the past 48 hours. Karin Huster, a nurse and MSF medical referent, sent us a voice note describing the scene.


I just came back from Al-Aqsa Hospital, one of the only remaining functioning hospitals from the Ministry of Health in Gaza. It is situated in the Middle Area, in a town called Deir al-Balah. The past 48 hours—and especially the last 24—have seen an insane escalation of hostilities in the entire Gaza Strip, with bombings simultaneously in the north, in the Middle Area, Khan Younis, and Rafah. 

We have seen hospitals being bombed. We have seen refugee camps being bombed. We have seen humanitarian warehouses being bombed. The situation is apocalyptic. This morning, on my way to the hospital, I saw two donkeys carrying the bodies of at least eight people who had died in the hostilities of the last night. When we arrived, the emergency room was completely packed. There were hundreds of people who were inside the emergency department, but also outside. There were families screaming. 

Staff treat patients at Al Aqsa Hospital in Gaza.
Dead bodies in body bags near Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza.

Al-Aqsa Hospital received at least 70 dead and more than 300 wounded patients after an escalation of fighting and bombing this week. Palestine 2024 © MSF

There was a man screaming for his family that had died in the last 24 hours. This hospital, which is still functioning—I don't know how—received over 70 dead bodies and well over 300 wounded patients, many of them critically injured. The odor of blood when I entered the emergency room was just overwhelming. People are lying on the floor. People are lying outside. People are lying in extensions of the emergency department in tents, bodies being brought in white plastic bags, the families standing over them and praying. 

It's just an emotionally overwhelming situation, and it's difficult. 

It's just impossible for anyone to cope because the Rafah border has been closed since the 7th of May. There have been no medical supplies that have been able to go in. There has been very little fuel coming in. There has been no food coming in. As the hostilities intensify and the health facilities diminish, we are in a situation that is just untenable. And soon there will be nothing that we can do with the patients that are coming. 

Satellite view IDP in Deir al-Balah / Area B, 24 May 2024
Satellite view of Deir al-Balah on May 24, showing a growing number of tents for displaced people.

These repeated mass casualty incidents that happen day after day after day—especially in Al-Aqsa Hospital—have stretched the system to the point of collapse. It is already a miracle that health care workers are still standing, providing care to Palestinians coming [into the hospitals]. To be frank, there is no coping going on right now. It's just barely surviving. We're in a literal washing machine and we don't know when this situation will stop because the border is closed. 

Palestinians who need to receive care outside of Gaza for their critical wounds are unable to be referred. Medical evacuations outside of Gaza should be facilitated, without prejudice to Palestinians’ right to return. 

We have seen hospitals being bombed. We have seen refugee camps being bombed. We have seen humanitarian warehouses being bombed. The situation is apocalyptic.

Karin Huster, MSF medical referent

The message repeats itself, but it needs to be repeated. We need a ceasefire. Only a ceasefire would allow for the scaling up of humanitarian aid, for the scaling up of personnel to provide the support needed to the hospital, of supplies for the hospitals, of food for the population, of fuel to be able to run the hospitals. 

This is a manmade catastrophe and it can be fixed. We just need to want to fix it. 

How we're responding to the war in Gaza