MSF convoy attacked in Gaza: all elements point to the responsibility of the Israeli army
Published: Dec 1, 2023Updated: Dec 1, 2023
On 18 November 2023, an MSF evacuation convoy came under fire in Gaza city. Two people were killed in what immediately appeared as a deliberate attack against clearly identified MSF cars. Both were family members of MSF staff, one of them was also a volunteer supporting MSF medical teams at Al-Shifa hospital.
Two weeks later, after collecting the testimonies of MSF staff present that day in the convoy, MSF considers that all elements point to the responsibility of the Israeli army for this attack.
MSF has also collected testimonies of the destruction of five MSF vehicles and the severe damage caused to the MSF clinic in Gaza city, all clearly identified by the organization’s logo, on 20 November, which can also be attributed to the intervention of an Israeli bulldozer and a heavy military vehicle. These vehicles were potential evidence, in case of an independent investigation on the attack on the MSF convoy. Shots were aimed at the MSF facilities where these colleagues were sheltering, leaving bullet holes in the interior walls. On 24 November, MSF staff also witnessed the destruction of a minibus, also clearly identified by the organization’s logo, by an Israeli tank. This minibus had been sent by the MSF team in south Gaza, following the destruction of the vehicles a few days before, to facilitate the evacuation of colleagues in the north.
MSF condemns again in the strongest terms the attack on its convoy and extends again its condolences to the families of the victims. MSF requested a formal explanation for this attack from the Israeli authorities and calls for an independent investigation to establish the facts and the responsibilities.
The staff and family members who went through this ordeal had been trapped in MSF facilities amid heavy fighting, with no electricity, and limited access to food and water, for almost two weeks, before they were able to evacuate to the south of the Gaza Strip on 24 November. These are their words, recorded between 26 and 29 November.
18 November: an MSF volunteer and another staff’s family member killed by the Israeli forces
On 18 November, an MSF convoy of five cars, all clearly identified by MSF logos, left the MSF premises (guesthouse, office, and outpatient clinic) headed to southern Gaza to reach a safer place. Since 11 November, they had been trapped by ongoing fighting around them and since then, MSF had repeatedly called to safely evacuate them.
MSF had informed both parties to the conflict of this evacuation movement. The convoy followed 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 screening of Palestinians by Israeli forces. Despite the prior authorisation from the Israeli authorities, the convoy wasn’t allowed to cross the checkpoint and was left waiting for hours. Shots were later heard by our staff, who out of fear decided to head back to the MSF premises, around 7 kilometres north of the checkpoint.
On their way back, between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm local time, the convoy was attacked in Al-Wahida street near the junction of Said Al-A’as Street, near the MSF office. Two of the MSF cars were deliberately hit, killing a nurse who volunteered with MSF teams and injuring the family member of another, who later also died from his wound.
20 November: five MSF vehicles destroyed by the Israeli forces
24 November: more MSF vehicles destroyed
As the only vehicles available to the staff and their family members had been destroyed, our teams based in the south of the Gaza Strip sent more vehicles to Gaza city to attempt another evacuation. However, they were also hit by bullets while approaching the MSF clinic and the movement was cancelled. Later, they too were destroyed by the Israeli forces – in the early hours of 24 November. Eventually, our colleagues and their families were able to reach the south once the truce came into effect on the morning of 24 November, thanks to the vehicles of other civilians evacuating.
MSF requested a formal explanation for this attack from the Israeli authorities and calls for an independent investigation to establish the facts and the responsibilities.
We extend again our deepest condolences to the families of the victims.