Throughout the offensive, MSF’s teams in Gaza worked in very dangerous conditions and at times were unable to run some regular services. One MSF clinic in Gaza city was damaged by airstrikes and put out of service for a few days, but outpatient consultations at the clinic resumed on May 20. Since the bombing stopped, MSF has scaled up all of its regular activities.
Al-Awda hospital, where MSF runs a surgical unit, was damaged by the impact of three airstrikes, which destroyed three nearby buildings in Gaza’s Jabalia district. Our logistics office in the hospital was damaged, as were windows and other infrastructure in the hospital’s wards.
During the offensive, MSF teams worked in Al-Awda hospital’s emergency room and operating theaters, carrying out more than 100 surgeries on patients wounded by missile strikes and shelling. We also donated medical supplies to the Ministry of Health to support other health facilities treating the injured.
With Gaza’s only COVID-19 testing lab damaged, the COVID-19 situation is a cause for concern.
“We don’t have clear visibility of the COVID-19 situation, as the only coronavirus testing lab has been damaged. We are worried that there could soon be a new surge of COVID-19 infections in Gaza,” says MSF medical team leader Tatiana Chiarella. To help prevent the spread of the virus, MSF has distributed face masks and hand sanitizer to people displaced by the bombing who are sheltering in schools.
Gazans left with life-changing disabilities
“It was the first day of Eid,” recalls Hani, 26, who was returning home after shopping in preparation for the celebrations at the end of Ramadan. “I was about to open the door of my house when a missile hit a building nearby.” Hani and one neighbor were severely injured in the bombing while two other neighbors were killed outright.
With the bones in his lower leg shattered by a piece of debris, Hani was unable to move, so he covered his head and waited for the bombing to end. He counted four distinct strikes before the bombing stopped and paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital. Ten days after the incident, the life-changing nature of his injuries is hard to accept. Hani will require multiple rounds of reconstructive and plastic surgery before he can walk again.
“This recent violence has created a huge cohort of new patients who will be facing disability and multiple rounds of surgery over the coming months and even years,” says Ottens-Patterson.
Palestinians deprived of medical care
During the offensive, many people in Gaza were unable to access medical care as stocks of medications and medical supplies ran low.