Why are we there?

  • Armed conflict

Update: 21st July 2014

Women and children comprised most of the wounded people arriving on Sunday morning in the emergency room in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where MSF is working, following heavy shelling overnight and in the morning in the city’s Ash Shuja’iyeh neighbourhood.

MSF personnel witnessed hundreds of people fleeing the area. MSF calls on Israel to stop bombing civilians trapped in the sealed-off Gaza strip, and to respect the safety of medical workers and health facilities.

“Shelling and air strikes are not only intense but are also unpredictable, which makes it very difficult for MSF and other medical workers to move and provide much needed emergency care,” said Nicolas Palarus, MSF field coordinator in Gaza.

Separately this morning, a clearly identified MSF vehicle escaped an air strike 300 meters away. Israeli authorities had earlier guaranteed secure movements for MSF from the Erez border crossing to Gaza City, so that an incoming surgical team could be picked up.

Read the full story: Gaza Strip: Israel must stop bombing trapped civilians

Update: 17th July 2014

As a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire ended on 17th July, explosions were heard in Gaza City near a clinic run by MSF. Earlier that day, MSF succeeded in sending an additional medical team into Gaza to reinforce its emergency response.

Within just a few hours, more than 100 missiles have been fired from Gaza and eight Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes.  At 9.30 pm, news comes through that Israel has launched a ground offensive.

Fortunately most of MSF’s additional team managed to enter Gaza before the ground offensive began, while MSF is working to get its surgeon in as soon as possible. The lull in the emergency room at Al Shifa is over.

Read more: Gaza: MSF scales up emergency response to Israeli ground offensive

Update: 15th July 2014

  • As of yesterday at 4pm, the total toll according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza is 173 dead and 1,263 wounded.According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 77 percent of casualties (both dead and wounded) are civilians.
  • An air strike fell close to the MSF compound this morning. Dozens of rockets were launched from Gaza and bombings resumed in the afternoon (at a lesser scale than yesterday).
  • Three families (22 people including 15 children) of our local staff from Beit Lahiya, north of Gaza, have sheltered in the MSF clinic after having to evacuate their homes on Sunday.
  • Al Shifa hospital is referring burn patients to the MSF's clinic. Four new cases were received yesterday, all are children under five.
  • MSF's clinic in Gaza city is open but only 11 patients have been able to reach the clinic so far, of a total of 87 patients registered for follow-up with MSF. 
  • In Nablus district, West Bank, several families severely affected by various military operations (intrusions, arrests, threats, mock raids) have been referred to MSF for mental healthcare.

Update: 13th July 2014

  • On Saturday night, Gaza was heavily hit. One family lost 21 members in one strike. Total toll according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) as of 4pm today is 165 deaths (among them are 36 children, 24 women and nine elderly) and 1,232 wounded.
  • People living in Beit Lahiya in the north of Gaza were told by the Israeli Defense Force to evacuate. The majority of the population have now left, sheltering in schools.
  • MSF visited Al Shifa hospital today where 35 surgical acts have been performed in the last 24 hours. MSF emergency stock and spare parts were donated to Nasser hospital and to MoH Central Drug Store.
  • An MSF clinic  opened today and received five new cases referred from Shifa hospital burn unit for post-op care out of a total of nine patients. The ability for patients to come to the MSF clinic is still very limited.

Update: 10th July 2014

Israel launched a military offensive - Operation Protective Edge - in Palestine this week.

  • Bombings are still very intense, with an average of 10 strikes per hour accross Gaza strip, even more at night.
  • A reduced MSF team has been able to re-opened the post-op clinic in Gaza city this morning and a dozen of patients have come for their follow up treatment.
  • Gaza hospitals are still able to respond to the emergency needs as of today, but due to already existing chronic shortages of drugs and disposables, the situation could worsen quickly.
  • MSF has proposed donations and HR support. An MSF surgical team is on stand-by in case a ground operation is launched.

Update: 9th July 2014

Last night, more that 80 rockets were launched (some reaching Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa). The Israeli Defence Forces hit Gaza with over 150 strikes. Official figures give 25 deaths - including four children - and 180 wounded, all Palestinians. Simultaneously, in the West Bank, after massive searching operations, settler violence is on the rise.

Since 2010, MSF has run a post-surgery clinic (dressings and physiotherapy) in Gaza city, where 80 percent of the patients suffer from severe burns.

Our teams also run specialised hand-surgery in Nasser hospital, Khan Younis, and provides intensive care training to medical and paramedical staff at Nasser and Ah-Shifa hospitals.

The intensity of the bombing makes it impossible for MSF team to move at all, and impossible for our patients or Palestinian staff to reach our clinic in Gaza City. Our activity is on stand-by.

Most of our patients live in the south of Gaza strip. The team is preparing dressing kits to be distributed directly to patients if the bombings' intensity lowers down and allows us to renew movements.

So far, hospitals in Gaza would be able to cope and not overwhelmed. MSF has proposed donations of medical material and medicines and is prepared to respond to any emergency needs by reinforcing its medical team with additionnal surgical capacities if the context allows for sending them.

Simultaneously in the West Bank, an MSF team is providing psychological first aid to people affected by settlers violence and searching operations in Nablus, Jenin and Qalqilya areas. They receive referrals for specialised psychiatric needs from other organisations.

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Our work

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

2012

The Israeli embargo, the financial crisis and the chronic lack of cooperation between Palestinian authorities have all contributed to a deterioration in the public health system in Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Exposure to violence resulting from intra-Palestinian and Israeli­­–Palestinian conflict has medical, psychological and social consequences, but people have difficulty accessing the care they need. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) programmes aim to address the gaps in the Palestinian health system.

Surgery in Gaza

In the city of Khan Yunis, MSF surgical teams make regular visits to Nasser hospital to carry out specialist procedures not usually available to people living in Gaza. Most patients are children with burns.

The post-operative care programme, set up to reduce the level of disability after injury, focuses on wound dressing and physiotherapy. In 2012 the team began to offer specialist hand rehabilitation, and provided training in cardiac physiotherapy.

Staff help a patient outside the post-operative care clinic at Nasser hospital, Gaza.

Staff help a patient outside the post-operative care clinic at Nasser hospital, Gaza. © Isabelle Merny / MSF

Emergency response to operation ‘Pillar of Defence’

MSF’s post-operative care clinic remained open throughout Israel’s military operation in November.

The mobile field hospital within the Nasser hospital compound was converted to receive the injured and conduct minor surgery, and an emergency medical team was sent to Gaza. Drugs and medical supplies were donated to the central pharmacy, and medical kits to treat the wounded were distributed to hospitals.

Mental health support         

In Nablus, Hebron, MSF offers medical, psychological and social support to people affected by conflict. In 2012, the number of psychological consultations increased by 50 percent.

In East Jerusalem, where MSF provides psychological and social services, patient numbers tripled, and almost half of patients were under 18-years-of-age. Anxiety-related conditions, depression, behavioural issues and post-traumatic stress were all common.

At the end of 2012, MSF had 96 staff in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. MSF has been working in the country since 1989.

Patient story

Fatima

In March 2008, Fatima, Mohammed and their three children were evicted from their home by the Israeli army.

“Because of what happened to our house, the children were affected. One of them started to stammer; the teacher wasn’t able to understand him.

"All three children started wetting the bed. An MSF counsellor sat with the children and helped calm them down, and I learned how to deal with the children at night.

"I myself felt anxious, but the counsellor also helped me deal with psychological issues.”

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