Gaza: One Year After the War

Palestinian Territories 2009 © MSF

Gaza City remains in ruins nearly a year after the war, and likewise people's lives remain shattered.

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 war made it extremely difficult to provide health care inside Gaza. Hospitals were unable to treat many non-emergency patients. Wounded patients were discharged too quickly or remained at home, fearing for their lives.

New medical and health needs have emerged in the post-war period, leading Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to revise its activities in order to address them, including post-operative care, physical therapy, mental health care, and plastic surgery.

The war caused considerable damage, but the embargo in place since 2006 in the Gaza Strip prevents building materials from entering and limits food and medical supplies. The health care sector is thus in considerably worse shape today.