A Palestinian girl stands on the balcony of a destroyed building in Gaza.

How we're responding to the war in Gaza

What to know about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and MSF’s medical and humanitarian response.

Urgent

Critical shortages of medical supplies in MSF-supported facilities across Gaza

June 21, 2024 — Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been unable to bring any medical supplies into Gaza since the end of April, leading to critical shortages of essential medicines and equipment. As a result, we could have to stop or drastically reduce some medical activities unless there is a significant replenishment of supplies in the coming days.

"We have six trucks filled with 37 tons of supplies—the vast majority of which are essential medical items—that have been waiting since June 14 on the Egyptian side of Kerem Shalom crossing point, unable to cross into Gaza where they are needed to save lives," said Guillemette Thomas, MSF medical coordinator in Palestine.

Eight months into the devastating war in Gaza, Israeli forces’ unrelenting, indiscriminate strikes have reduced much of the Strip to rubble and upended the lives of millions of Palestinians.

More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, over 84,000 wounded, and thousands are estimated to be buried under the wreckage. Over 1.9 million people—85 percent of the entire population—have been forcibly displaced. Water and food are scarce, essential supplies like fuel and electricity are scant, and while the threat of disease and starvation grows and the bombardment continues, lifesaving health care is increasingly inaccessible. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Gaza are witnessing firsthand how this war has turned Gaza's chronic humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe.

Photo above: Palestine 2024 © Ben Milpas/MSF

What MSF is calling for

The ceasefire resolution passed by the UN Security Council on March 25 was not implemented, which renders it little more than political theater. Israeli forces continue to carry out widespread attacks that disproportionately impact civilians.

States must heed their obligations and do everything they can to stop the continued killing. Without an immediate and sustained ceasefire and the flow of meaningful humanitarian assistance, we will continue to see more Palestinians die.

The duty of treating the sick and wounded—and the correlating protection of medical personnel and facilities—is at the core of international humanitarian law. Yet, since the beginning of this war, MSF has seen a pattern of systematic attacks against medical facilities and civilian infrastructure. Our staff and patients have had to leave 13 different health structures and have endured 26 violent incidents, including airstrikes damaging hospitals, tank fire at agreed deconflicted shelters, ground offensives on medical centers, and firing at convoys. These attacks show the failure of deconfliction measures in a war fought with no rules.

Among the health care workers killed since October 7 are five MSF staff members: Mohammed Al Ahel, Alaa Al Shawa, Mahmoud Abu Nujaila, Ahmad Al Sahar, and Reem Abu Lebdeh.

The closure of the Rafah crossing in May due to the ongoing Israeli offensive is making it nearly impossible to deliver humanitarian assistance and provide medical care. As a result, stocks of fuel, food, water, and medicines are dangerously low and people are trapped by renewed fighting. 

The US military anchored a temporary floating pier on Gaza's shoreline on May 16 to increase the flow of aid into the Strip. This is a glaring distraction from the real problem: Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate military campaign, a punishing siege, and the ongoing offensive on Rafah. Israel needs to facilitate rather than block the flow of supplies.

Opening the Rafah crossing would be the most effective and desperately needed solution given its proximity to people in need of assistance and by facilitating a larger flow of aid compared to other routes.

On January 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued provisional measures for Israel to take to prevent a plausible genocide in Gaza, including allowing humanitarian aid into the Strip. Yet we are witnessing a worsening situation in Gaza as indiscriminate attacks on civilians, medical and aid workers, and health facilities continue. On May 24, the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah and reopen the Rafah crossing.

All states that support these actions by Israel are morally and politically complicit. We call all on governments, particularly the US, UK, and allied EU member states, to use their power to influence Israel and stop supporting the ongoing siege and bloodshed. 

There are over 83,000 wounded Palestinians in Gaza and very few hospitals left to provide them with the care they need. Among the wounded are thousands of patients requiring complex and sustained medical care that is not available in Gaza.

An estimated 14,000 patients in Gaza require medical evacuation, and this number is expected to increase due to the diminishing capacity of the health system compounded by the ongoing escalation in fighting. The closure of the Rafah crossing with Egypt has completely halted medical evacuation of patients since May 7. Since then, 600 patients have been held up despite being scheduled for evacuation. 

Israel must resume issuing medical referral permits for treatment in the West Bank and Jerusalem for severe cases that cannot be treated in Gaza. All medical referrals, patients, and their caregivers must be guaranteed safe, voluntary, and dignified return to Gaza

400+

MSF staff in Gaza, including local Palestinian staff and international teams

6,000+

consultations per week at Al-Mawasi Health Post in Rafah

400,000

liters of water provided per day in Al-Mawasi and Khan Younis

How we're responding in Gaza

Medical services

MSF staff have been working in Gaza’s hospitals and clinics throughout the war. Our teams provide a range of essential medical services including:  

  • Surgical care  
  • Wound and burn care  
  • Postpartum care  
  • Physiotherapy   
  • Mental health support  
  • Vaccination   
  • Outpatient consultations   

Many of the hospitals MSF supports throughout Gaza have been hit or subjected to evacuation orders that put the lives of patients and staff at risk—so our teams are continually adapting to extremely volatile conditions on the ground. Today, MSF mainly operates in southern and central Gaza, including in Rafah, Khan Younis, and Deir al-Balah.  

Hospitals and clinics we have supported 
  • Nasser Hospital, European Gaza Hospital, and Martyrs, Beni Suhaila, Khan Younis, and Al Athar clinics in Khan Younis
  • Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah   
  • Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza
  • Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City   
  • Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, Emirati Maternity Hospital, Al-Najjar Hospital, and Al-Mawasi Health Post in Rafah
Map of MSF operations in Gaza, Palestine.
Humanitarian aid and medical supplies  

As of the end of May, MSF has brought in a total of 76 trucks of supplies into Gaza through the Rafah crossing point. However, bringing supplies into Gaza has been extremely difficult due to administrative barriers, movement restrictions, and lack of crossing options. Since the Rafah crossing closed in early May, there has been a significant decrease in the entry of trucks, from 24 trucks in March to only two trucks in May.  

Water and sanitation 

Drinkable water is scarce in Gaza, so water distribution is an important part of MSF’s response. We provide about 400,000 liters of water per day at 30 water distribution points in Al-Mawasi and Khan Younis. In Rafah, we provide about 300 cubic meters of clean water each day and are trying to increase this quantity. On March 28, MSF set up a new desalination plant in Al-Mawasi.

MSF has partnered with Palestinian NGOs since February 2024. Through our partnership with the Agriculture Development Association (PARC), we are implementing water and sanitation activities in camp shelters in Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis. This includes building latrines for more than 30,000 people across six camps, distributing hygiene kits for 2,400 families, providing clean drinking water to a population of 25,000 people per day. We also equipped a camp hosting people with disabilities with accessible latrines and showers.

By the numbers

  • 400+ MSF staff in Gaza 
  • 78 trucks carrying essential supplies sent into Gaza as of the end of May
  • 5,000 patients screened for malnutrition at Al-Mawasi Health Post in Rafa
    • 6,000+ consultations per week at Al-Mawasi Health Post in Rafah
    • 400,000 liters of water provided per day at 30 water distribution points in Al-Mawasi and Khan Younis
    • 130 consultations per day and 35 surgical procedures per week at Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital before ceasing activities in May due to Israeli forces’ Rafah offensive
    • 180 wounded and 28 dead patients recorded at the trauma stabilization point MSF supports in Tal Al-Sultan after Israeli airstrikes hit a camp sheltering displaced people in a designated safe zone on May 26
    • 5,800 wound dressings provided at Al-Aqsa Hospital between February 7 and April 4 
    • 250 consultations per day at Al Hekker Primary Health Care Center 
    • 36,000 medical consultations, including more than 15,000 pediatric cases, conducted at Al-Shaboura Clinic
    • Latrines built for 30,000 people across six camps
    • Hygiene kits distributed to 2,400 families

The medical needs in Gaza are immense. Many Palestinians require urgent assistance—including people trapped under rubble, pregnant women who are about to deliver, and the elderly—and are not able to access the care they need. The core needs MSF is seeing and seeking to address include:    

  • The collapse of health care infrastructure due to repeated attacks and lack of supplies has made medical care increasingly inaccessible as the overwhelming needs continue to grow. As of May 30, out of the 36 main hospitals serving over 2 million people in Gaza, only 14 remain partially functional, with severe limitations on the types of services they can deliver.
  • War wounds, crush injuries, and burns treatment remain an urgent need as Israeli bombardment and attacks continue. But with very little capacity inside hospitals and a dire lack of medical supplies, people aren’t getting the care they need to heal properly or even survive.     
  • Infections resulting from poorly treated wounds are a growing concern, driven by the difficulty wounded people face accessing care and follow-up, shortages of supplies, and lack of access to hygiene.  
  • Infectious diseases including diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, skin infections, and hepatitis are on the rise.     
  • Starvation is inevitable under the Israeli government's policy of deliberate deprivation, only allowing a trickle of food and water to enter the Strip. We are already seeing the impacts of widespread food insecurity and hunger, and according to an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, famine is imminent.

Since October 7, increasing settler violence against Palestinians and movement restrictions have exacerbated the health impacts of life under occupation, particularly on mental health and access to care.

MSF has responded by expanding efforts to reach communities where people are unable to access care, bolstering local emergency response, and addressing the needs of Gazans who have been stranded in the West Bank after losing their work permits in Israel after October 7. Our activities include:

  • Supporting four primary health centers and running 15 mobile clinics in the Hebron area, including the Old City, and remote villages in the southern West Bank such as Masafer Yatta
  • Donations to hospitals and first-aid kits for community focal points in Beit Omar and Al Rshaydeh, and the emergency care center in Um El Khair
  • Providing relief items, hygiene kits, and food parcels to displaced Gazans and West Bank residents affected by violence and displacement
  • Increasing capacity at hospitals including Halhoul, Thabet Thabet, Al-Mohtaseb, Jenin, and Khalil Suleiman
  • Training medical staff at Al-Mohtaseb, Halhoul, Dura, and Yatta hospitals in the Hebron area. 
  • Providing mental health care 
  • Expanding health promotion activities.

MSF has a base in Egypt to facilitate the transit of our supplies and international staff. Our teams in Egypt are ready to send more medical supplies into Gaza if allowed to safely do so. We are in contact with the Egyptian authorities and the relevant organizations to start activities in Egypt and provide health care for injured or sick Palestinian people allowed to exit Gaza, if needed.

MSF does not currently run medical programs in Israel but offered its support to Israeli hospitals treating large numbers of casualties following the Hamas attacks on October 7. We focus on filling the greatest gaps in health care, and Israel has strong emergency and health systems. 

MSF provides medical care to anyone who needs it, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. As an organization, we focus on filling the greatest gaps in health care.  

To facilitate our humanitarian and medical work, we speak to all parties to the conflict to request safe, rapid, and unimpeded access to civilians who require medical care and to ensure the safety and security of our staff. Our independence and impartiality are essential to our work in all the places we operate across the globe. We also believe that the principles of impartiality and neutrality are not synonymous with silence. When the world turns its back on crises, we are duty-bound to raise our voices and speak out on behalf of our patients. Our decision to do so is always guided by our mission to do no harm, preserve respect and dignity, and protect life and health.   

Read more frequently asked questions about our work in Gaza >> 

 

Wounded and displaced Palestinians in Gaza sit in front of a blue wall

Voices from Gaza

Members of MSF's team in Gaza share their experiences living and working under bombardment and siege.

Read more

Attacks on health care

Despite the protections afforded to health workers and facilities under international humanitarian law, MSF teams in Gaza have witnessed a pattern of attacks on health care in Gaza, with medical staff being killed, arrested, and mistreated on a regular basis, along with the destruction of major hospitals such as Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals.These attacks have left less than a third of the main hospitals in Gaza functional—with severe limitations on the types of services they can provide—and 490 health workers have been killed, including five MSF staff members.

April 1: Israeli forces leave Al-Shifa Hospital in ruins after a 14-day military operation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 21 patients have died since the hospital came under siege, and about 107 other people remained trapped inside as of March 31, including four children and 28 people in critical condition. Gaza’s largest hospital is now out of service.

MSF is calling for the safe evacuation of the remaining patients so they can receive the care they need.  

Mar. 31: An Israeli airstrike hits a yard in front of Al-Aqsa Hospital, where MSF provides trauma care, wound dressings, and other critical services.  

Mar. 27: MSF staff in Rafah witness an airstrike in the vicinity of Al-Shaboura clinic. No casualties were reported among our patients or medical personnel, as the clinic was closed at the time of the attack.

Feb. 20: An Israeli tank fires on a house sheltering MSF staff members and their families in Al-Mawasi, Khan Younis, killing two people and injuring six more. Bullets were also fired at the clearly-marked MSF building, hitting its front gate, exterior, and the interior of its ground floor. 

Feb. 14 - 15: Israeli forces order everyone inside Nasser Hospital to evacuate and then storm the hospital early in the morning. Everyone who leaves the hospital is screened by Israeli forces and one MSF staff member is detained.* MSF staff are forced to flee the hospital after the orthopedic department is shelled by Israeli forces, killing and wounding an undetermined number of people. 

* Staff member was released on April 4

Feb. 13: Israeli forces order the evacuation of thousands of displaced people sheltering inside Nasser Hospital. Medical staff and patients are told they can remain in the building, with one caretaker per patient. Many people are afraid to leave the hospital because shots were fired at the building and at people trying to leave the compound. 

Jan. 9: A strike on an MSF shelter in Khan Younis kills the five-year-old daughter of an MSF staff member. 

Dec. 17: Israeli forces take control of Al-Awda Hospital after a 12-day siege. Men and boys over 16 years old are stripped and interrogated, with six MSF staff among them.

The same day, the maternity ward of Nasser Hospital is hit by the casing of Israeli “illumination rounds,” killing one patient and wounding others.  

Dec. 12: An MSF surgeon is injured inside Al-Awda Hospital by a shot fired from the outside. 

Dec. 5: MSF staff at Al-Awda Hospital report that the hospital is facing a total siege. In the following days, two medical staff (not MSF staff members) are shot and killed by snipers. 

Dec. 1: Hours after the truce between ends, a blast damages Al-Awda Hospital.

Nov. 24: Israeli forces destroy a minibus attempting another evacuation of MSF staff and their relatives in the north.

Nov. 21: A strike on Al-Awda Hospital kills two MSF doctors, Dr. Mahmoud Abu Nujaila and Dr. Ahmad Al Sahar, and another doctor, Dr Ziad Al-Tatari. 

Nov. 18: An MSF evacuation convoy is targeted by Israeli sniper fire, killing two people , including an MSF volunteer. Two days later, our colleagues sheltering in the MSF guesthouse witness a bulldozer and Israeli military vehicles destroy the MSF cars from the convoy. Israeli forces also damage the MSF clinic by pushing the vehicles against its perimeter wall, which fell down. Part of the clinic caught fire. 

Nov. 15: Israeli ground troops storm Al-Shifa Hospital. All  MSF staff had left the hospital about one week earlier. 

Nov. 3: An ambulance is hit and destroyed outside Al-Shifa Hospital. Many people are killed. 

Oct. 30: The Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital is hit by a projectile, causing damage to the building. The hospital stops functioning when it runs out of fuel two days later. 

Oct. 13: Israeli forces give Al-Awda Hospital two hours to evacuate. The hospital was not subsequently hit, but it was damaged by nearby bombing.

Oct. 11: Some of the ceilings inside Al-Awda Hospital in central Gaza are damaged after a nearby airstrike.

Oct. 10: An Israeli airstrike damages MSF’s clinic. No staff are injured. 

Oct. 7: The blast from an airstrike that hit next to the MSF-supported Indonesian Hospital ignites oxygen canisters in the hospital, causing damage and killing a nurse (not an MSF staff member). 

Destruction at Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, which is now out of service.

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