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Palestine: "The situation can never be the same"

Hussein* was working in Israel until his permit was canceled last month. Now displaced to the West Bank, he longs for home and family back in Gaza.

Rubble from a destroyed building in Jenin, West Bank, after an Israeli incursion on November 1.

The remnants of a destroyed building in Jenin. | Palestine 2023 © Faris Al-Jawad/MSF

Following the attacks carried out by Hamas on October 7, thousands of Gazan Palestinians working in Israel had their permits canceled. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Labor, around 6,000 are now displaced in the West Bank, some living in deplorable conditions. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams support them through donations, including medications for non-communicable diseases, and also provide mental health support.

“Before October, 7 everything was OK for me” said Hussein*, 62, who lives in Gaza but had worked in Israel for 37 years before the current war in the Strip. “I would go to work in Ashdod. Sometimes I would sleep there, and sometimes I would return to Gaza to visit my family and stay with them.”

The day everything changed

To make a living for his family, Hussein painted houses and worked in farms in Ashdod, a city in Israel located about 23 miles north of Gaza.

“I was treated well, and I have a lot of Israeli friends,” he said. “The day before the October 7 attacks, I was drinking coffee with my best friend at the place where I lived. He’s Israeli, and I met him while buying vegetables in the market. I used to bring him and his family some fruits and vegetables from Gaza. Our families quickly became friends, too.”

But on October 7, everything changed. “I was sleeping when my friend and another man entered my room and started beating me with sticks,” said Hussein. “They shouted, ‘your people are killing us here and you are sleeping in our houses!’ They unleashed their dogs on me. They bit and ripped my stomach and torso.”

After 10 minutes, Hussein managed to run away, but it took him 30 minutes to reach a safe place.

“I called an Israeli friend of mine, who came to pick me up. He took me to another friend’s house, and I hid there for 10 days without seeing the sun. On October 18, I got a taxi and came here to the West Bank.”

Displacement center in Jenin
MSF teams support displaced Gazans in the West Bank through donations and mental health support.
Palestine 2023 © Faris Al-Jawad/MSF

Thinking of Gaza

Hussein arrived in Ramallah, West Bank’s main city, and decided to head north to Jenin, where hundreds of Palestinians displaced from Gaza live in centers run by the Palestinian Authority.

MSF teams travel to these centers to provide medical donations, including medications for non-communicable diseases, and provide mental health support. Some patients have reported to our teams that they were beaten, humiliated, and abused while being detained by Israeli forces following October 7.

“The people here are truly kind. I was not expecting it,” said Hussein. “But my family is in Gaza City. My wife and children live there. Sometimes I manage to reach them by phone. They tell me how the situation is over there. It’s terrible.

“I just want to live in peace,” he continued. "We do not want to bother anyone, and we hope no one bothers us. To live in peace within our families, our children and grandchildren. Palestine is my country, wherever I am, it is my country. I long to see my family in Gaza.”

Today, Hussein believes that he will never be able to go back to Ashdod, the city where he used to work.

“The situation can never be the same.”

*Name has been changed for confidentiality

The current situation in the West Bank

Violence in the West Bank has been rising during the latest war in the Gaza Strip. As of November 3, 135 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, including 42 children, according to OCHA. In addition, there have been 96 attacks on health care.

On October 25, an airstrike hit Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. MSF teams received multiple critically injured patients at Jenin hospital, where our doctors are providing lifesaving medical care. 

Palestinians in the West Bank face death and displacement as violence escalates

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How we're responding to the war in Gaza