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Gaza: A call from Al-Shifa

After losing contact with MSF staff trapped inside Al-Shifa Hospital while it was under attack, we were able to reach a member of our team this morning. This is what they told us.

MSF teams treat patients at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza during Israeli bombardment in October 2023

MSF teams treat a child patient at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on October 19. | Palestine 2023 © Mohammad Masri

Please note that the situation at Al-Shifa Hospital is unfolding rapidly and may change.

At 8:10 a.m. local time today, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was able to reach our staff in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza after losing contact during relentless attacks by Israeli forces over the past few days. The situation continues to get worse. Here is what our colleague, an MSF surgeon, told us this morning while still inside the hospital.

"We don’t have electricity. There’s no water in the hospital. There’s no food. People will die in a few hours without functioning ventilators.  

In front of the main gate, there are many bodies. There are also injured patients; we can’t bring them inside.  

When we sent an ambulance to bring the patients—a few meters away—and they attacked the ambulance. There are injured people around the hospital looking for medical care. We can’t bring them inside.

There’s also a sniper who attacked patients, they have gunshot wounds. We operated on three of them.

The situation is very bad, it is inhuman. It’s a closed area, no one knows about us. We don’t have an internet connection—you managed to call me now, [but] maybe you’ll [have to] try 10 times before you can reach me again.

The medical team agreed to leave the hospital only if patients are evacuated first. We don’t want to leave our patients. There are 600 inpatients, 37 babies, someone who needs an ICU. We can’t leave them.

We need a guarantee that there is a safe corridor [to leave] because we saw some people trying to leave Al-Shifa and they killed them, they bombed them, the sniper killed them.

Inside Al-Shifa Hospital, there are injured patients and medical teams. If they give us guarantees and evacuate the patients first, we will evacuate."

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