Ambulances carrying victims of Israeli strikes crowd the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Gaza, 2023. © Dawood Nemer/AFP

MSF: Unconditional humanity needs to be restored in Gaza

Dr. Christos Christou
International President MSF

Mass killing of civilians is sickening and must be condemned in all possible terms. Horrific violence has been wreaked over the last 10 days.

Thousands of men, women and children have been killed in Israel.

Thousands of men, women and children have been killed in Palestine.

The situation today in Gaza is catastrophic. Hospitals and clinics that are running are overwhelmed and are barely functioning. They are running out of electricity and medical supplies. Surgeons in Al-Shifa hospital are now operating without painkillers. As a surgeon myself, this is unimaginable.

Hospitals and clinics have been attacked. Others receive orders to evacuate–with just a couple of hours’ notice – with impossible decisions to make. Patients – including those in critical condition – risk their lives either by moving, or by staying behind, in both cases perhaps to die without treatment.

The bombing right now in Gaza is relentless. People have been killed while forced to move, looking for safety.  People are trapped, unable to escape, with absolutely nowhere safe to go. They’re deprived of essential needs – water, food, protected shelter, medicines.

This is unimaginable. This is inhumane.

Basic humanity needs to be restored in Gaza.

The indiscriminate bombing must stop. The egregious level of collective punishment currently being meted out on the people of Gaza must end. 

People in Gaza need protected spaces, and ways to reach them safely and unimpeded. People wishing to cross the border into Egypt should be allowed to – with the future option to come back – and be properly and humanely assisted. People also need clean water, reliable electricity, access to food and healthcare.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt must be opened to allow medical and essential supplies to be sent to Gaza.

For us, and all medical staff in Gaza to work, we need basic guarantees of safety.

Despite the incredible needs, the widespread bombing and the impossibility to bring in supplies has forced us to suspend most of our activities. Our teams inside and outside of Gaza are doing the best they can to respond.

As a medical and humanitarian organization, we want to do so much more. Today this is just impossible.

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.