MSF condemns denial of medical access in Israeli military raid

At least eight people have been killed and 91 others have been injured in the largest military operation in the occupied West Bank in 20 years.

MSF aid workers in Jenin, West Bank observe damage to buildings during Israeli raid on Palestinians

Palestine 2023 © MSF

Last updated on July 6, 2023

NEW YORK/JENIN, JULY 3, 2023—Staff with the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are currently providing emergency health care in the West Bank city of Jenin following a large-scale raid by Israeli forces on a refugee camp. This marks the largest Israeli military operation in the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian Territories since 2002. At least eight people have been killed and 91 others have been injured in the ground and air attack—many with gunshot and shrapnel wounds. As people remain in need of care, medical structures, ambulances, and patients must be respected and health workers must be assured unhindered access, said MSF.

MSF staff have been treating patients since 2 a.m. local time at Khalil Suleiman hospital, where several gas canisters landed in the courtyard during the attack. So far, staff have received 55 wounded patients, including people with gunshot wounds to their heads and some who were hit with tear gas canisters.

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Beyond killing and injuring people, this military operation has also affected health structures and obstructed the medical response to the emergency. Military bulldozers destroyed multiple roads leading to the Jenin refugee camp, making it nearly impossible for ambulances to reach patients. Additionally, Palestinian paramedics have been forced to proceed on foot to reach people in need of desperate medical treatment in an area with active gunfire and drone strikes. All roads leading to the refugee camp in Jenin have also been blocked for the duration of the military operation despite the presence of patients in need of care inside the refugee camp.

“We’ve been working for 15 hours and patients keep coming in,” said Jovana Arsenijevic, MSF operations coordinator in Jenin. “This is an unprecedentedly long military operation, and yet there are still victims that cannot be reached. Health care staff must be allowed to access patients unhindered.”

The July 3 raid brought the number of deaths during Israeli forces operations in Jenin to 48 this year. Raids by Israeli forces there are increasingly resorting to air support, a worrying development in the use of violence. Today alone, at least 10 air attacks have been reported in Jenin. The use of attack helicopters and drone strikes in such a densely populated area represents a marked increase in intensity and is nothing short of outrageous, said MSF. With incursions increasing in frequency, obstructions to medical care provision are also on the rise.

"The raids in Jenin are becoming more and more frequent, and their intensity seems to reach new heights," Arsenijevic said. “Raids on Jenin camp have started to follow a familiar pattern. For example, ambulances have been rammed by armored cars, and patients and health care staff have routinely been denied entry and exit in the camp.”

MSF has been working in the occupied Palestinian Territories since 1989 and currently has operations in Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and Gaza.

UPDATE: On July 4, 2023, Israeli forces fired tear gas inside Khalil Suleiman hospital in Jenin, where MSF is providing medical care. "This is unacceptable," said Jovana Arsenijevic, MSF operations coordinator in Jenin. "The emergency room is not usable right now—it's completely filled with smoke, as is the rest of the hospital. People who need treatment can't be treated in the ER and we have to treat the wounded in the main hall on the floor. Our teams have treated 125 patients since the start of this raid." The attack follows another raid on June 19 which killed five Palestinians and left at least 90 wounded, according to Palestinian health authorities.