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MSF: Israeli order to evacuate northern Gaza ‘outrageous’

Safe spaces and safe passage urgently needed for civilians trapped in Gaza.

Flames and smoke from an explosion in Israel's attack on Gaza.

Palestine 2023 © Mahmud Hams/AFP

Late Thursday night, the Israeli military warned more than 1 million people living in northern Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours and move to the southern part of the territory. 

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has around 300 people working with us as staff in Gaza. Overnight, MSF’s international staff members based in northern Gaza relocated to the south of the Strip. However, the vast majority of MSF staff in northern Gaza are Palestinians living in the area. Some of them are currently moving south with their families, and MSF is trying to help them find shelter. Others, notably medical staff, are remaining in the north to try to treat sick and wounded people.

It is impossible for such large numbers of people to move in such a short period of time. Mass displacement will only worsen this humanitarian crisis. As for the many civilians who will not be able to leave the northern Gaza Strip, MSF is extremely concerned about their fate once the Israeli deadline expires. 

MSF repeats its call for an immediate end to the indiscriminate bloodshed and for the urgent establishment of safe spaces and safe passage for civilians trapped in Gaza.  

Below is a statement from Meinie Nicolai, MSF general director, on Israel’s evacuation order: 

“The Israeli government’s 24-hour notice that people in northern Gaza must leave their land, homes, and hospitals is outrageous. This represents an attack on medical care and on humanity. We are talking about more than a million human beings. 

'Unprecedented' doesn’t even cover the medical humanitarian impact of this. Gaza is being flattened, thousands of people are dying. This must stop now. We condemn Israel’s demand in the strongest possible terms.”

August 22, 2022

Staff story: Shadi Al-Najjar, MSF physiotherapy manager in Gaza

In 2022, MSF Physiotherapy Manager Shadi Al-Najjar’s home in Gaza was partially destroyed when his neighbor’s house was bombed. His family was still in the house when his nine-month-old son’s bedroom was hit. Al-Najjar found his son in his crib surrounded by glass and shrapnel—fortunately uninjured. He says his youngest daughter is traumatized.  “She is not able to sleep, crying all the time. I am trying to be as supportive as I can for them,” said Al-Najjar.

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MSF physiotherapy manager Shadi Al-Najjar treats a patient at Al Awda hospital in Gaza in 2019

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