MSF Assists Palestinians Affected by Military Operations in West Bank



Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is giving psychological support to those affected by the military operation currently being carried out by the Israeli army in the district of Hebron in the West Bank. In response to this situation, one doctor, five MSF psychologists and five MSF social workers are visiting the most affected areas every day. 

“Our patients are people who have been injured, have had family members detained or killed, or have had their homes destroyed or raided,”explains Juan Carlos Cano, MSF general coordinator in Jerusalem. 

The military operation to locate the three young Israeli settlers who disappeared on June 12 involves checkpoints on streets and highways, house-to-house searches, and movement restrictions for the population that are affecting normal activity in schools and businesses and hampering access to health facilities. According to several patients, dogs are used in some of the incursions, and tear gas or small bombs are used to blow open doors.

Since the beginning of the intervention, the MSF teams have given first psychological assistance to 200 people, and have done psycho-education and counseling group sessions with 654 people. Children are the most affected and are at risk of developing psychosomatic symptom such as enuresis, sleeping problems and anxiety.  Psychologists will follow up on patients who may potentially suffer from post-traumatic symptoms. 

Psychosocial workers also refer cases to other organizations for more specialized medical and social needs,  and MSF has provided food parcels to some families whose houses have been demolished.  

Military operations are also ongoing in Nablus district. MSF is present in the area and is monitoring and assessing the psychological needs in order to respond according.

MSF has been active in the Palestinian Territories since 1989, providing free medical and mental health care in several locations in the West Bank and Gaza and responding to emergencies. Since 2001, MSF has been carrying out a psychological support program with medical and social components in Hebron Governorate.

In Hebron and East Jerusalem, MSF is running a medical and psychosocial programme for people suffering from trauma because of the conflict. MSF teams focus on people with psychological distress (acute stress, anxiety disorders, post traumatic syndromes, depression) caused by violent incidents involving Israeli settlers and Israeli Army, but also due to the intra-Palestinian conflict. In Hebron, MSF staff carried out 1726 individual mental health consultations and 945 medical consultations in 2011. In the beginning of 2011, MSF conducted a needs assessment in East Jerusalem and decided to start providing in this part of the city mental health care to the population who suffers trauma or psychological distress due to the consequences of violence caused by the conflict and who has no access to mental health services. MSF therapies started in July in the Shufat refugee camp and Silwan area and since then MSF staff carried out 223 individual mental health consultations.