Gaza: MSF condemns deliberate attack on a convoy transporting staff, resulting in one death and one injury

One person was killed and one was injured in an attack today, Nov. 18, 2023, on a convoy of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff members and their families who had been attempting to evacuate from northern Gaza. The person who was killed was a relative of an MSF staff member. MSF condemns in the strongest terms this deliberate attack.

The convoy was made up of 137 people – Palestinian MSF staff members and their families, including 65 children. Since Nov. 11, they have been trapped in MSF’s guesthouse, office and outpatient clinic near Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, because of ongoing fighting, and we have repeatedly called for their safe evacuation.

This morning, they departed at 9:00 a.m. local time with five vehicles, all clearly marked with MSF identification, including on the roofs. MSF had informed both parties to the conflict of this movement.

The convoy went through the itinerary indicated by the Israeli army and reached Salah Al Deen street, along with other civilians trying to leave the area.

The convoy reached the last checkpoint near Wadi Gaza, which was overcrowded at that time due to extensive screenings of Palestinians by Israeli forces. Despite the information shared with the Israeli army, they were not allowed to cross the checkpoint for hours. Shots were later heard by our staff, pushing them to turn back out of fear to return to MSF’s premises, located around seven kilometers [about four miles] from the checkpoint.

On their way back, between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. local time, the convoy was attacked in Al-Wehda street near the junction of Said Al A’as street, near the MSF office. Two of the MSF vehicles were deliberately hit, killing one MSF staff’s family member and injuring another.

MSF calls again to urgently allow the evacuation of our staff, as well as of thousands of other people, trapped by fighting and living in extremely dire conditions in northern Gaza.

We are calling for an immediate ceasefire, which is the only way for corridors to be implemented to safely evacuate trapped civilians.

Updated on Nov. 22, 2023:

We are devastated by the death of a relative of an MSF staff member in Gaza, following injuries he sustained during the attack on an MSF evacuation convoy on 18 November.

For the last four days, we repeatedly advocated with the parties to the conflict to allow him to be medically evacuated, but we were unable to obtain the safe conditions needed to carry this out. MSF staff sheltered in the same building did their best to help him.

We demand that all parties stop harming civilians. We continue to call for a ceasefire which is the only way for corridors to be implemented in order to safely evacuate thousands of civilians, including MSF staff and relatives.

About MSF in Palestine

The information about our response, below, is correct as of Nov. 9, 2023.

MSF activities in Gaza are currently very limited. We have extreme difficulties delivering aid and providing healthcare due to the insecurity and the unpredictability of the bombardments. While some of our colleagues decided to move south following the unacceptable evacuation order of north Gaza, some of our other colleagues have remained in northern Gaza and continue to support in lifesaving activities in Al Shifa Hospital as well in Al Nasser hospital in the south. In Al Awda hospital, a team of seven MSF staff is also working in the MSF inpatient department. 

We are also supporting local health authorities with donations from our medical stock. Due to the huge and uninterrupted influx of wounded people since the beginning of the current active conflict, Al Shifa Hospital, the main surgical facility in the Gaza strip, was on the brink of a complete shortage of essential medicines. In response, we recently were finally able to make a large donation of medical stock, including medicines and medical equipment to Al Shifa hospital. 

Our staff are working hard on preparing medical and humanitarian supplies to be sent to Gaza when safe access will be guaranteed and open, and we’ll send in emergency teams if and when we’re able to. 

MSF is committed to supporting the people affected by the Israeli heavy bombardments and indiscriminate attacks on Gaza. We stand in solidarity with healthcare workers and patients in Gaza. We want to be able to access people in need of medical care and offer lifesaving humanitarian services, but to do this we need basic guarantees of safety. 

The West Bank

MSF’s medical and humanitarian activities in the West Bank have been affected by the escalation of violence and the reinforced movement restrictions that have limited people’s access to essential services, including healthcare. To adapt to the situation, MSF medical teams are providing phone consultations for Palestinian residents and displaced people, and referring patients for medical treatment, mental healthcare and social services. MSF mental health teams are also providing psychological first aid, counselling and psychotherapy, mostly remotely. In the West Bank city of Nablus, MSF teams are continuing to provide local people with mental healthcare.

MSF has donated medical supplies, including surgical kits, to Ahli hospital in Hebron, and first aid kits to community focal points in Beit Ummar, Al-Rashaydeh and to the emergency care centre in Um Al-Khair; and provided support including training for staff in Al Mohtaseb Hospital located in Hebron old city. MSF continues to assess the situation in hospitals across the West Bank.