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Gaza: MSF condemns strike killing staff member’s five-year-old daughter

Indiscriminate violence against civilians must end.

Smoke over Gaza after Israeli airstrikes on October 9.

Palestine 2023 © MSF

NEW YORK/JERUSALEM, January 9, 2024—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) condemns a strike yesterday on an MSF shelter in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, which resulted in the death of the five-year-old daughter of a staff member.

There were more than 100 MSF staff and their family members seeking safety there at the time of the incident. An immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza is critical, and indiscriminate violence against civilians must end, said MSF.

The five-year-old girl, Malak Abu Saada, was critically injured yesterday morning when a suspected tank shell broke through the wall of MSF’s shelter in Khan Younis. The child underwent surgery at the Gaza European Hospital but died of her injuries today. Malak's father, Rafiq Abu Saada, has been an MSF driver since 2009. Three other people received minor injuries during the strike.

“We are outraged and deeply saddened by the death of yet another family member of our MSF staff,” said Thomas Lauvin, MSF project coordinator in Gaza. “This strike on civilians is unacceptable and, once again, goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you are in Gaza, nowhere is safe. The shell did not detonate on impact, otherwise many more of our staff and their families would have most likely been killed.”

Prior to the incident, MSF notified Israeli forces that the shelter near Gaza European Hospital was housing MSF staff and their families. Furthermore, no evacuation orders were issued before the strike. While MSF is not able to confirm the origin of the shell, it appears to be similar to those used by Israeli tanks. MSF has contacted Israeli authorities for further explanation.

Four of MSF’s staff have been killed since the beginning of the war in addition to numerous family members.

MSF-USA staff hold signs at a vigil calling for ceasefire at United Nations in New York.
United States 2023 © Christopher Lee

Update: This piece has been updated to include the name of the child killed and her father's name and position with MSF.

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