A Palestinian man carries an injured child to MSF's clinic at Rafah Indonesian Hospital in Gaza.

How MSF is responding to the war in Gaza

What to know about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and how MSF teams are addressing the dire needs on the ground.

Update

Israeli forces leave Al-Shifa Hospital in ruins

April 1, 2024—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is horrified that Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza is in ruins after a 14-day long operation by Israeli forces in and around the facility. According to the World Health Organization yesterday, 21 patients have died since the hospital came under siege on March 18, and approximately 107 other people remained trapped inside as of yesterday, including four children and 28 people in critical condition. Patients who remain in Al-Shifa Hospital must be safely evacuated so they can receive the care they need.

After more than six months of war, Israeli forces’ unrelenting, indiscriminate strikes have reduced much of Gaza to rubble. 

More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and over 75,000 wounded, and thousands are estimated to be buried under the wreckage. Three-quarters of the population—1.7 million people—have been forcibly displaced by this war, the majority crammed into the south. 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 have witnessed firsthand how this war has turned a chronic humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe.

Photo above: Palestine 2023 © MSF

What MSF is calling for 

  • An immediate and sustained ceasefire to prevent more deaths and to restore and scale up the flow of humanitarian aid that people depend on for survival. 
  • Attacks against hospitals and civilians must stop immediately. 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. 
  • Unhindered access to humanitarian aid must be ensured. Israeli authorities must lift the inhumane and unlawful siege and allow humanitarian organizations to provide lifesaving care safely and without impediments. The aid flowing into Gaza has been negligible compared to the immense needs. 

How we're responding

Medical care

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

  • Surgical care
  • Wound and burn care
  • Post-partum 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 the south.

Our work has supported the following hospitals and clinics:

  • Nasser Hospital, European Gaza Hospital, and the Martyrs and Beni Suhaila 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 and Al-Emirati Maternity Hospital in Rafah 
Humanitarian aid and medical supplies

We are also working to secure the flow of essential supplies including food, water, fuel, medicine, and medical equipment. We were able to send over 75 tons of medical supplies—mainly surgical and dressing kits—through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt from October to January. Our teams in Egypt are ready to send more medical supplies into Gaza if allowed to do so safely. We are in contact with the Egyptian authorities and the relevant actors to provide health care for injured and sick Palestinians who are medically evacuated. 

Read more about MSF's operations in Gaza, the West Bank, and Egypt in response to the war >>

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

  • The collapse of health care infrastructure in Gaza due to repeated attacks and lack of supplies has made medical care increasingly inaccessible as the overwhelming needs continue to grow. Less than half of hospitals are partially functioning and those still operational are facing an average bed occupancy rate of 388 percent, according to the World Health Organization.  
  • 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.
  • Rates of infectious diseases including diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, skin infections, and hepatitis are on the rise.   
  • Food and water shortages are worsening due to the lack of basic supplies, including food, being allowed into the Strip.

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 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: 

  • Running 10 mobile clinics in the Hebron area, including the Old City, and remote villages in the southern West Bank such as Masafer Yatta
  • Donating first-aid kits to 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, Moktaseb, Jenin, and Khalil Suleiman
  • Training volunteer paramedics on first aid and first response, and trauma care for medical staff
  • Supporting emergency response planning by setting up stabilization points
  • Providing psychotherapy and psychiatric consultations
  • Expanding health promotion activities

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 >>

A Palestinian man with arms outstretched in front of destruction in Gaza.

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News & stories

April 08 09:00 AM

Why we won't accept the narrative of ‘regrettable incidents’ in Gaza

MSF Secretary General Christopher Lockyear on political choices in Gaza.

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Christopher Lockyear speaks with other MSF staff on a visit to Gaza, Palestine.

April 04 09:00 AM

How the Israeli army besieged Nasser Hospital

Evidence points to deliberate and repeated attacks by Israeli forces on Nasser Hospital, once the largest hospital in southern Gaza.

Read More
Desk in a ransacked room at Nasser Hospital in Gaza on March 13.

April 01 04:07 PM

Israeli forces leave Al-Shifa Hospital in ruins

Gaza’s largest hospital is again out of service, leaving patients without care as medical needs continue to rise.

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

Attacks on health care

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). 

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.

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